After watching the recent presidential debate on Nov. 29, undecided voters and typical non-voters might have been convinced to get involved in this election. With that in mind, there are some important deadlines that college students should know before they are ready to make their choices in the polling booth or on their mail-in ballots.
For college students who are not yet registered to vote, they can use their address in Florida for voter registration or register in their home state and request an absentee ballot. In Florida, the deadline to register to vote and participate in an upcoming election is 29 days before the election date. Since the general election is on Nov. 3, the deadline to register is Oct. 5. Students can visit Florida’s Online Voter Registration website to submit an online application, update or check their voter registration status and ensure they are eligible to vote.
Once you are registered and eligible to vote, there are few different ways to cast your vote in this general election.
To vote-by-mail, state law requires that the ballots are sent to voters who already have requests on file. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is no later than 5 p.m. 10 days before the election and the deadline to request a “mail-in” ballot is Oct. 24. This ballot must be returned and received no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, in order to be counted. However, there is a 10-day extension for overseas voters for the presidential primary and general election.
The USPS recommends that domestic voters mail back their voted ballots at least 1 week before the Election Day deadline to account for unforeseen events or weather issues. Vote-by-mail ballots may also be returned to secure drop boxes at Supervisor of Elections’ main and branch offices and early voting sites. Visit online or contact your county Supervisor of Elections for the location of all vote-by-mail ballot secure drop boxes.
Early voting is considered casting a ballot prior to Election Day at a location designated by the Supervisor of Elections and depositing the voted ballot in the tabulation system. By law, early voting must be held at least eight days prior to the general election. The mandatory early voting period for 2020 is Oct. 24-31. Each county Supervisor of Elections may offer more days for early voting. In Broward County, the early voting period is from Oct. 19 – Nov. 1 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. With early voting, Florida law requires voters to present a picture ID with a signature such as a driver’s license, U.S. Passport, debit or credit card or a student ID, to name a few.
Election Day Voting
For those who want to participate in the tradition of Election Day on Nov. 3, make sure that you know which voting location you have been assigned to. Check your Voter Status and Voter Information Lookup to find more information about your Election Day Polling Location. Be sure to bring a valid ID that has your name, photo and signature with you to your assigned polling location. It is recommended to review a Sample Ballot prior to arriving at your polling location, to research the nominees and become familiar with the form prior to submission. Visit the Broward County Sample Ballot Lookup online to view your sample ballot.
Voting and COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the way some people are voting this year, keep in mind that if you decide to vote in-person, follow CDC and local and federal safety and health recommendations. As a reminder, the CDC recommends to keep at least a six-foot distance from others, wear a mask or face covering and to wash hands whenever possible or use hand sanitizer. View the Broward County Supervisor of Elections in-person voting health protection and recommendations for more information.