ORLANDO, Fla. – Cities across Florida will open polling places for municipal elections on Nov. 7.
In Central Florida, cities in four area counties are holding elections. Orlando, Oviedo, Mascotte and Melbourne Beach, in fact, are holding mayoral races. There is also a special primary election for Florida House District 35, which includes voters in parts of Orange and Osceola counties.
So it’s important to make sure you are able to vote in Florida. You have until Oct. 10 to register to vote in those November elections.
“We want everybody to vote, we want everybody to register and we want everyone to have a voice in what happens in this great state of Florida,” said Dr. Lavon Bracy. “My message is, we need to find you. You need to have a voice in the state of Florida.”
In the town of Eatonville Tuesday, state and community leaders passed out voting education packets.
State Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis, D-Orlando, was among many discussing the power of the Black and minority vote — even though she said some laws may discourage marginalized communities from voting.
“When we come together and organize and vote we win and in looking at that voice, the legislature and some of those people in power, recognize the power in our collective voices, so that’s what they made it harder,” said Bracy.
The push to encourage more Central Floridians to register to vote was also heard at a roundtable discussion where dozens of elections supervisors and community leaders across Central Florida took part.
It’s so important that we participate in our democracy and the way we have a voice in our democracy is by voting,” said Osceola County Supervisor of Elections Mary Jane Arrington.
There were also discussions about voter education.
Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said that all voters who want to vote by mail need to send in a request as soon as possible. A new Florida law last year required all vote-by-mail requests on file to expire at the end of 2022.
“Everyone has to renew their vote by mail requests if they want ballots between now and the presidential election next November,” said Bill Cowles.
What you need to be eligible to vote
You are eligible to vote in Florida if:
- Be a citizen of the United States of America
- Be a legal resident of Florida
- Be a legal resident of the county in which you seek to be registered
- Be at least 16 years old to preregister, or at least 18 years old to register and vote
- Not be a person who has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having the right to vote restored
- Not be a person convicted of a felony without having your right to vote restored
There are no set rules for what makes a legal resident in Florida. The biggest thing is you must have a home in the state. Also, your home address cannot be a post office box.
How to register
There are a few ways to register to vote in Florida.
Florida has an online voter registration system. Go to Register to Vote Florida.gov. There you can register to vote, update your voter registration, and check to see if you are registered. The site is available in English and in Spanish.
Note, if you do this you must have a Florida driver’s license or Florida identification card that is issued by the state.
You can also register to vote in person at the following offices:
- At the driver’s license office
- At a public library
- At the Center for Independent Living
- At WIC and DCF offices
- At any supervisor of elections office
You can also print out a copy of the voter registration application and mail it to your county supervisor of elections office.
In order to register on a paper application, you must have:
- A Florida driver’s license or Florida identification card
- OR The last four digits of your Social Security number
What’s the deadline to register to vote?
In order to vote in an election, you must get your voter registration application in 29 days before that election – a deadline known as “book closing.”
· November general election: Oct. 10
What if I’m from another state?
If you are from another state, you need to fill out a new voter registration form for Florida. Your registration does not transfer from one state to the next. You need to make sure you are registered by the date above in order to vote in a Florida election.
What if I’m registered and I want to update my registration (in-state change of address, change party affiliation, etc.)?
Say you need to change your address, or you want to change your party affiliation so you can vote in a party primary. If you have a driver’s license, you can do this online at Register to Vote Florida.gov.
You will need a Florida driver’s license or a Florida identification card in order to make those changes, otherwise you will have to download a voter registration application and mail in your changes to your county supervisor of elections office.
All changes to your registration also need to be in by book closing. Those are the dates listed above.
What if I’m registered to vote, but I haven’t voted in a while?
You may be considered an inactive voter. That’s when a voter’s information is not able to be verified, and then an address verification letter is sent to you, but is returned as “undeliverable.”
Florida law requires county supervisors of elections to conduct voter maintenance twice a year. So if you haven’t voted in some time, you may find yourself marked as an inactive voter.
To go from being an inactive voter to an active voter, all you have to do is vote, or contact your county supervisor of elections office.
If you’re curious if your voter registration is active, you can go to Register to Vote Florida.gov, and look up your registration under “Am I Already Registered?”
What if I’ve been removed from voter rolls by accident?
The Florida Division of Elections says voters are removed from the rolls if they are dead, not a U.S. citizen, not listing a valid Florida registration, or has had their voting rights taken away because of a felony conviction or judged to be mentally incapable, or a voter has left the state and Florida election officials have been notified. A voter may also be asked to be removed from the rolls.
If you think you have been removed from the voter rolls by accident, you should contact your county supervisor of elections office immediately and submit a new voter registration application.
I am a convicted felon who has completed my sentence. How do I get my voting rights restored?
In Florida, certain felons who have completed their sentences are permitted to register to vote. Florida law requires that felons complete any prison and parole sentence, plus pay all applicable court fees.
Once this is done, you can register to vote on a new voter registration application.
How do I request a vote-by-mail ballot?
A voter can request a ballot be mailed to them by contacting their county supervisor of elections office. You can find a list of the county offices in the state on the Florida Division of Elections website.
That request can be:
- Called in
- Made in person at the office
- Mailed, faxed or emailed in. If you do this, you must provide a signed request (in the case of an email, you must scan a signed letter and send it in as an attachment)
All requests must have this information:
- Voter’s full name
- Date of birth
- The voter’s Florida driver’s license number, identification card number, or last four digits of their social security number
Those identification numbers are required to be on file with the county supervisor of elections office in order to get your VBM ballot request approved.
To do that, you will need to fill out a voter registration form to update the information your county has on file. You can find a list of the county offices in the state on the Florida Division of Elections website.
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