What You Need To Know About Absentee Ballots

Absentee ballots (also known as vote by mail) are convenient tools for students and expats living away from home and people who can’t get away from the office to visit the polls. It’s also popular with people who need a little extra time to vote and like to take their time. If you want to vote but can’t make it to the polls, learn a little more about absentee voting in Pinellas County, also known as mail-in voting, or vote by mail, so you can vote from the comfort of home on or before election day.

What is an Absentee Ballot?

An absentee ballot is actually the same thing as a mail-in ballot, or vote-by-mail option. For many people, this is the most convenient way to vote, and ballots even come with an “I voted by mail,” sticker so absentee mail ballot voters can let their friends and family know how you voted.

Any registered voter can vote by mail. One of the main benefits of this option is that voters can take more time to make decisions and do more research on candidates at home. Voters are even encouraged to vote by mail to reduce congestion at polling locations and make it easier for people with work scheduling conflicts.

According to Florida law, all accepted mail ballots must be included in the final results. State law requires the use of paper optical scan ballots whether you are voting by mail, at an early voting site, or at the polls on Election Day. The main difference is that vote-by-mail voters will not receive a paper receipt after voting.

Vote by mail from the comfort of your own home

How Do I Get an Absentee Ballot?

Voters in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas can request absentee ballots from the Supervisor of Elections of Pinellas County at VotePinellas.com. Whatever county you live in, you can go to your supervisor of elections website and request an absentee or mail-in ballot. Another useful website for requesting an absentee ballot is Vote.org, which is a national website that finds your county and absentee ballot source.

Voters who request mail ballots for all elections will automatically be mailed ballots for elections they are eligible to vote in. A request to vote by mail is good throughout the calendar year of the second regularly scheduled general election. All requests for absentee ballots must be received no later than 5pm on the sixth day (Wednesday) before an election.

Is There a Deadline to Mail My Absentee Ballot?

Voters who request mail ballots do not have to send their ballots on a specific date but must mail their ballots in advance so that they arrive at the Supervisor of Elections’ office no later than 7pm on Election Dayfor their vote to be counted.

Plan ahead to get your absentee ballot mailed in on time, accounting for mail transit time. Most local governments recommend allowing at least five daysfor mail to reach the office. You can also drop it off at your polling place on election day.

Your ballots may be returned by mail or in person, and there is no limit on the number of ballots a single person may return on behalf of other voters. All envelopes must be sealed and signed by the voter who filled out the ballot. For more information on mailing your ballot, check out the Ballot Overviewat VotePinellas.com.

What if I Change My Mind and Decide to Vote at the Polls on Election Day?

If you want to vote in-person on Election Day, bring your absentee ballot with you to your polling location and request that your vote-by-mail ballot be cancelled. If you cannot find your absentee ballot, the poll worker will need to confirm that your ballot has not yet been received and cancel your mail ballot, so you may vote in person. Be sure to bring all necessary forms of identification (i.e., driver’s license and voter registration card) when you vote.

Can Someone Else Request an Absentee Ballot for Me?

Yes. To request an absentee for someone other than yourself, you must be immediate family or a legal guardian. The requestor must provide:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • A daytime telephone number
  • Their relationship to the voter
  • Your driver’s license number (optional)
  • A signature if a written request

The requestor must be able to include a current mailing address for you, as ballots cannot be forwarded.

Can Someone Else Pick Up My Ballot?

Yes. Pinellas County voters may designate, in writing, anyone to pick up their ballot no sooner than five days prior to election day. The designee is limited to two ballots for each election other than his/her own ballot, and ballots for his/her immediate family only [F.S. 101.62(4)(b)(4)]f.

How Can I Check My Voting Status?

In Pinellas County, you check your voting status by calling (727) 464-VOTE (8683) or follow this link to check your status at VotePinellas.com.

My Signature Has Changed, What Do I Do to Vote?

When you vote by mail, your signature is compared to the signature on file from your last registration. If your signature has changed since your last registration, you must submit a new voter registration application at RegistertoVoteFlorida.govand update your signature. This site can also be used for first time registration.

 

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