You might have heard discussions about voter identification laws, but what does that really mean for you? What do you need to have with you when you go to the polls?
Keep reading to answer common questions about voter identification requirements in Pinellas County so you’re prepared once Election Day comes around.
What Are Voter Identification Laws and Why Do They Matter?
Most states require voters to provide some form of official identification to verify their identity when they vote. Each state has laws regarding how they verify that a voter is indeed who they claim to be.
Proponents of strict voter identification laws argue that this prevents fraud, while opponents say that fraud is rare and discourages people from voting. Because citizens need to follow their region’s voter ID laws, it is important for voters to be aware of their particular state’s requirements.
The Florida Department of State oversees the Division of Elections, which implements voter identification procedures according to Florida law. Each county then has a canvassing board and a Supervisor of Elections that oversee certifying election results and ensuring voter identification laws are enforced.
Typically, the Pinellas County canvassing board is made up of a county judge (who is appointed by the chief judge), the chair of the board of county commissioners and the Supervisor of Elections.
What Identification Is Required to Vote in Pinellas County?
Registered voters in Pinellas County must abide by Florida’s voter identification laws, which require that voters provide a photo ID with a signature when they vote in person.
Florida considers the following acceptable forms of photo ID:
- Florida driver’s license
- Florida ID card issued by the Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- U.S. passport
- Debit or credit card
- Military identification
- Student identification
- Retirement center identification
- Neighborhood association ID
- Public assistance identification
- A license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm
- Veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- Employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the Federal Government, the state, a county, or a municipality.
Note: If the photo ID does not also have a signature, a second ID with a signature will be required, in addition to the photo ID.
I Don’t Have Identification. Am I Still Allowed to Vote?
If a registered voter does not have a valid identification with them when they arrive to the polls, they will be given a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are identical to other regular ballots, but they will not be considered valid until the canvassing board has verified the signature on the ballot matches the signature on file.
If you receive a provisional ballot, you can check its status at VotePinellas.com. You have the right to provide written evidence supporting your voting eligibility. It must be provided to the Supervisor of Elections by 5 p.m. on the second day after the election.
Is Voter Identification Required for Absentee or Mail-in Ballots?
If you use an absentee ballot (otherwise known as a mail-in ballot), your signature will act as your identification. You will sign the ballot envelope and your signature will be checked to make sure it matches the signature that is on file from when you registered.
Voting Tip: Take a photo on your phone of your signature when registering to see if your current signature matches.
If you have received a mail ballot, but you decide to vote in person, take your mail ballot (the entire kit) with you to your polling place. The mail ballot will be marked “cancelled,” and you will be given a regular ballot. If you do not take your mail ballot to the polls, you may vote on a provisional ballot.
Is the Voter Information Card I Received Considered Proper Voter Identification?
No. The Voter Information Card is for informational purposes only and does not count as a valid ID. You’re also not required to show it in order to vote.
Do Voter Information Cards Expire?
No. They do not expire, nor does registration, but voters can become inactive if they neglect to vote in two consecutive federal elections. If this happens to you, you will need to re-register to become active.
Confused? Have a Special Situation? We’re Here to Help!
The goal of the League of Women Voters is to help as many people as possible participate in the democratic process. We are here to help you vote! If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
You can also contact the office of Deborah Clark, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, for assistance.
These small steps can prepare you to successfully vote this August and November! With the right information, you can arrive at the polls prepared.
Kimberly Walker, content writer for all things educational, didn’t figure out what she wanted-to-be-when-she-grew-up until she was forty, when she unearthed her two greatest passions— writing in a down-to-earth style that stretches her readers’ thinking and advocacy for the marginalized. She now can most often be found being a grown-up living out her dream in one of downtown St. Pete’s cafés, cozied up with her laptop and a local brew coffee with light cream.