What is Vote-by-Mail
A vote-by-mail ballot refers to a ballot that you request and pick-up or have delivered to you without having to vote at the polls during early voting or on Election Day. A voter must first be registered to vote before he or she can request a vote-by-mail ballot. Unless otherwise specified, a request to receive a vote-by-mail ballot covers all elections through the end of the calendar year for the second ensuing regularly scheduled general election. If a vote-by-mail ballot is returned undeliverable, it will cancel a request for future elections and must be renewed.
How to and Who Can Request a Vote-by-Mail Ballot
A request for a vote-by-mail ballot may be made in one of the following ways:
- Online application on your county Supervisors of Elections' website;
- By other writing (e.g., by email, fax, mail) to Supervisor of Elections;
- In person at Supervisor of Elections;
- By telephone call to Supervisor of Elections.
The request must include the following information:
- The voter's name;
- The voter’s address;
- The voter’s date of birth; and
- The voter’s signature (if the request is written and the request is to an address other than the one on file). Note, an exception to this requirement exists for absent uniformed service voter or an overseas voter seeking a vote-by-mail ballot.
A voter can designate an immediate family member (the designee's spouse or the parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the designee or of the designee's spouse) or the voter's legal guardian to request the ballot on their behalf. The following additional information is required for the request.
- The requestor’s address;
- The requestor’s driver’s license number (if available);
- The requestor’s relationship to the voter; and
- The requestor’s signature (if the request is written).
What is the Deadline to Request that a Vote-by-Mail Ballot be Mailed
The deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed is no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th day before the election. A Supervisor of Elections must mail the ballot out within 2 business days after a request and the last day for a Supervisor to be able to mail out a ballot is 8 days before the election.
Who Can Pick Up a Vote-by-Mail Ballot
A voter can pick up their own vote-by-mail ballot at any time once the ballot becomes available, including Election Day.
A voter's designee can pick up a ballot but no earlier than 9 days before Election Day. A designee is limited to picking up vote-by-mail ballots for two other voters per election (not including their own ballot and the ballots for immediate family members). The designee must submit an affidavit to pick-up the voter’s blank ballot. Form DS-DE 37 (English PDF/ Español PDF) is a combination form that includes the affidavit for ballot pick-up, the written authorization for the designee and if a request is not already on record, the voter’s request for a vote-by-mail ballot.
If a voter or designee waits until Election Day to pick up or have delivered a vote-by-mail ballot, the Election Day Vote-by-Mail Ballot Delivery Affidavit (DS-DE 136 - English PDF/ Español PDF) must also be completed. The voter must affirm that an emergency exists that keeps the voter from being able to vote at his or her assigned polling place.
How to Vote a Vote-by-Mail Ballot
Instructions are included with the vote-by-mail ballot. If the voter decides to go to the polls to vote, the voter should bring the vote-by-mail ballot (marked or not). The vote-by-mail ballot will be canceled and the voter can vote a regular ballot at the polls. If the voter comes to the polls without the vote-by-mail ballot, the voter can vote a regular ballot if the supervisor of elections' office can confirm that it has not received the voter's vote-by-mail ballot. If it is confirmed that the supervisor of elections office has already received the voted vote-by-mail ballot or it cannot be determined, the voter cannot vote a regular ballot at the polls. However, if a voter believes that he or she has not already voted, he or she shall be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.
What is the Deadline to Return a Vote-by-Mail Ballot
A returned voted ballot must be received by the Supervisor of Elections’ office no later than 7 p.m. (local time) on Election Day. Other return options are available for Military and Overseas Voters under certain circumstances. The United States Postal Service recommends that domestic nonmilitary voters, mail back their voted ballots at least 1 week before the Election Day deadline to account for any unforeseen events or weather issues. The Federal Voting Assistance Program provides recommended earlier timelines for absent military and overseas voters.
Vote-by-mail ballots may also be returned at secure drop boxes at Supervisor of Elections' main and branch offices and early voting sites in your county. Please contact your Supervisor of Elections or visit their website for the location of all vote-by-mail ballot secure drop boxes in the county.
How to Correct a Missing or Mismatched Signature on Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot
A Supervisor of Elections is required to notify a voter as soon as it is practical if a voter's signature is missing or does not match the one on record. Once a voter learns about the missing or mismatched signature, the voter may complete and return a “Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure” Affidavit (Form DS-DE 139 (English PDF / Español PDF) with a copy of identification. The documentation can be returned by mail, email, fax ,or in person. The deadline to submit the form and the ID is no later than 5 p.m. (local time) on the 2nd day after an election. Failure to follow the instructions may cause the ballot not to be counted.
How to Track Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot Request and Returned Ballot
Any voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot can track online the status of his or her ballot through a link within the Division of Elections' Voter Information Lookup or through their county Supervisor of Elections' website.
The United States Postal Service also provides a free service called Informed Delivery that allows you to digitally preview the address side of certain mail pieces such as a requested vote-by-mail ballot that will arrive soon at your address.
NOTE: If a voter’s registration information is protected pursuant to section 119.071(2), (4), or (5), Florida Statutes, or the voter is a participant in the Attorney General Office’s Address Confidentiality Program, the voter will need to contact the Supervisor of Elections’ office about the status of the vote-by-mail ballot and request.