TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida primary election approaches, and vote-by-mail registration is open. For Florida residents who wish to request a vote-by-mail ballot, there are a few rules and procedures to go through before you can get your voting form.
According to the Florida Department of State, who supervises elections on the state level, the deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is 10 days before the election, by 5 p.m.
For this year’s Aug. 23 primary election, that means voters who want a mail ballot have to request one by Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. While the ballots can be requested online, you can also send them by mail. In order for the request in writing to be considered valid, it must be requested by email, fax, or physical mail and sent in with a valid signature to their county’s Supervisor of Elections.
Voters can also make requests in person at their Supervisor of Elections‘ office, or by phone.
To make the request, voters have to include the following information:
- The voter’s name;
- The voter’s date of birth;
- The voter’s address (If the request is to mail the ballot to an address other than the one on file, the request must be a signed writing. An exception exists for absent uniformed service voter or an overseas voter seeking a vote-by-mail ballot.);
- The voter’s Florida driver license, Florida identification card, or last four digits of the elector’s social security number, whichever may be verified in the supervisor’s records;
- The voter’s signature (if the request is written).
For voters who cannot go in person to make their request, or have to designate someone to make the request on their behalf, the person chosen must be an immediate family member, such as a spouse or parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, or sibling of the designee, or a voter’s legal guardian.
In order for that person to make the request on a voter’s behalf, and receive the ballot, they must provide:
- The requestor’s address;
- The requestor’s driver license number, state identification card, or the last four digits of the elector’s social security number (if available);
- The requestor’s relationship to the voter;
- The requestor’s signature (if the request is written).
Once a vote-by-mail request is made, the resident’s SOE must send the ballot out within two days of the request being made. The deadline for a mail ballot to be sent out is eight days before an election, and it must be sent by the Supervisor of Elections’ office.
Voters can either pick up their mail ballots in person, including on Election Day, or send their designee to pick it up. Designees cannot pick up vote-by-mail ballots for more than two voters per election, including their own and those of their families, according to the DOS.
For a designated recipient to pick up a ballot for another voter, they must fill out a form and submit an affidavit to receive the blank ballot, along with the written authorization form from the voter. If a request is not already on record, they must submit the affidavit along with Form DS-DE 37, the form includes both the affidavit for pick-up and the authorization form.
For voters or designees waiting until Election Day to receive their mail ballot, form DS-DE 136 must also be filled out and submitted. The voter is required to “affirm that an emergency exists that keeps the voter from being able to vote” at their polling locations.
The state of Florida does not require a witness to certify a completed ballot for vote-by-mail. Once filled out, voter ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections’ office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, “regardless of postmark.” The Florida DOS says “Untimely received ballots are otherwise not counted.” They recommend returning ballots at least a week before the Election Day deadline in order to “account for any unforeseen events or weather issues.”
To find your Supervisor of Elections, an online county search is available from the Florida Department of State.