Your Election 2020 Questions, Answered Here - WUSF Public Media | Tampa NPR, Local News Coverage

Your Election 2020 Questions, Answered Here

A wait of more than an hour was reported for early voting at the Hudson Area Library Branch on Oct. 19, 2020. Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

Voting can feel overwhelming, and that’s definitely the case in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The State We’re In knows some voters may be confused by voting by mail, early voting, or the long list of candidates and amendments on the ballot.

We’ve been asking you to share your questions the past few weeks, and we’re starting to answer them here. This is a safe place to get informed about the elections. Nothing about voting is off limits – it’s a judgment free zone to help you vote smartly and safely.

If you don’t see what you need here, just submit ask on the form below and we’ll try to answer for you.

Q: My daughter just turned 18, but she doesn’t have a license. Her appointment is for Oct. 28. She has her voting registration, but not ID, and her passport is expired. Can she vote with her voting registration only and School ID for last year?

A: The short answer is yes! The rule of thumb is election supervisor’s offices are looking for two things: a photo, and a signature, and it can be on separate documents. And student ID is on the official list of acceptable IDs, which you can view here.

https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/election-day-voting/

[Here’s the actual list: Florida driver’s license or ID; United States passport; Debit or credit card; Military ID; Student ID; Retirement center ID; Neighborhood association ID; Public assistance ID; Veteran health ID; U.S. VA ID; Concealed weapon permit; Employee ID from a government agency]

There are two other things to consider in this scenario. One, if her driver’s license appointment is Oct. 28, she would still have until Nov. 1 to vote early, and Nov. 3 to vote on election day. And voting is a constitutional right – so even if you do not have identification, you should be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Now, casting a provisional ballot should be the last option, and provisional ballots can be rejected. But the default from election workers should be to vote first, resolve problems later.

Q: Is it better to vote in person during early voting (if I have a chance)?

A: The question is a bit subjective. There are pros and cons to early voting, voting by mail and voting on election day. One, early voting in person should have less wait times than on election day. And if there are any issues with your polling location or change of address, you have more time to correct any issues. But in-person voting does mean you will have to interact with people – which may worry some people as cases of coronavirus increase.

Vote-by-mail is probably the easiest, but if you actually mail your ballot in, you will want to track your ballot to make sure there weren’t any signature problems. Officials suggest sending it at least a week early if you send by mail.

https://registration.elections.myflorida.com/CheckVoterStatus

You can also elect to drop your ballot off at your early-voting location, or to your election supervisor’s office on election day. And finally, there is one major advantage to voting on election day: You will know the latest news on the candidates and issues. Once you’ve voted, you can’t change your ballot.

Q: I can find no info about Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors Group 2 and above. Frustrating!

A: Frustrating is the perfect word about the challenges voters face in finding information about smaller, local races, but you should be applauded for wanting to be educated. Do an online search for the candidates – they might have websites. And groups – like The Florida Bar for judges or county-level League of Women Voters also may have information. However, group endorsements are not impartial so the information you see on group sites will reflect their priorities.

Q: When does the opening and counting of mailed ballots start? The day that they are received? On Nov. 3 at 7 a.m. On Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. On Nov. 4 or later?

A: Florida law allows ballots to be processed and counted 22 days before the election. It’s important to note, though, that it is a felony to release the actual ballot counts before election day. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a handy breakdown of how each state processes ballots here.

https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/vopp-table-16-when-absentee-mail-ballot-processing-and-counting-can-begin.aspx

The NCSL also has a list of mail and absentee voting policies by state here.

https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-mail-voting-policies-in-effect-for-the-2020-election.aspx

Moreover, in Florida, Gov. Ron Desantis issued an emergency order allowing counties to count ballots earlier – as long as they have done the required accuracy testing of election machines. That means county supervisors of election were allowed to begin processing ballots as early as September 22, 2020 only.

https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-149.pdf

If you have more questions about dates, here’s the Florida Division of Elections’ calendar.

https://dos.myflorida.com/media/703440/final-elections-calendar-2019-2021-updated-20200821-complete.pdf

Q: I voted by mail & received confirmation from Ballottrax on 10/8 that my ballot was received & would be counted. I check every day, but it has not been counted yet, nor had my husband’s. What is the delay? How long should they hold our ballots?

A: Without more information, it’s hard to say what the particular problem may be. (Some Florida counties are using BallotTrax to notify voters about their ballot status)

https://wheresmyballot.com/

You can always call the supervisor’s office directly to ask. Counties are already allowed to process ballots, but they aren’t required to start reporting results to the state until closer to election day (October 25).

Q: Where can I get the amendments explained?

A: Happy to help! The State We’re In has explainers on Amendments 1-4 here.

https://www.wmfe.org/tag/amendments2020

Also, a great place to start is with the Florida Division of Elections here:

https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/

This allows you to see who is sponsoring the amendments, as well as find economic analysis of the amendments. Now, Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 were put on the ballot by the Florida Legislature. The non-partisan staffers in the state capitol do in-depth analysis of all pending legislation, which can serve as a useful starting place.

Check here for the state analysis of Amendment 5

https://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=h0369z.LFV.DOCX&DocumentType=Analysis&BillNumber=0369&Session=2020

And check here for the state analysis of Amendment 6.

https://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=h0877z.LFV.DOCX&DocumentType=Analysis&BillNumber=0877&Session=2020

Q: What plans are in place in case a hurricane hit around election day? Because it’s 2020 …

A: So the Florida hurricane season does run through November 30. A couple of years ago, our sister station WLRN had a quick primer on what could happen if a hurricane hits on election day here. Similar rules may apply here.

https://www.wlrn.org/news/2016-08-25/what-happens-to-the-election-if-we-get-a-storm

But the short answer is if you’re really worried about a hurricane, maybe vote early.

Q: If I drop off my ballot at the Supervisor of Elections office or an Early Voting site on Monday Oct. 19, exactly when will that vote be counted? Before November 3 or after?

A: There’s no definitive answer to that question early in the election process, unfortunately. It’s up to each individual election supervisor when they start processing ballots. However, once mandatory early voting starts, officials have to return the previous days’ tallies every day. So starting October 25, counties must begin reporting results to the state.

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