The Orlando procrastinator’s guide to voting in the 2020 general election

Early access addition for Pulptown+ Members

We get it: Politics are stressful at the moment. You know what, scratch that, they’re downright scary.

And to make matters worse, ballots and the whole voting process get intimidating fast.  And that’s where we come in.

You’ve probably already heard this in every way possible, but it bears repeating: The 2020 general election is very important, and it’s absolutely crucial that each of us plays our part and casts a vote. While the deadline to register has already passed, there are still plenty of questions voters have about how to cast their ballot, how to vote by mail, and how to make sure their vote is counted.  

We’ve compiled answers to those Qs and more in this handy guide — and while this won’t be the last you’ll hear from Pulptown on the election, hopefully, it’s a strong start. As always, we welcome your feedback. Now to answer some of those voter FAQs.

Can I vote?

🗳 Are you registered? Head here and enter your date of birth along with your first and last name. 

When can I vote?

🗳 When’s the deadline to vote? Ballots must be received by Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. to be counted. There are three ways to vote: by mail, early voting, or in-person on Election Day at the polls. 

If you mail your ballot by Thursday, Oct. 29, you can feel pretty confident it’ll arrive on time. If you’ve lollygagged and waited, you’ll want to hand-deliver it. Follow these links to find a drop site near you:

🗳 Can I vote early? Early voting in the above four counties begins on Monday, Oct. 19, and ends on Saturday, Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 1 respectively. A list of early voting locations in Orange County and their hours can be found with this helpful form. It’s also worth noting that you can securely drop off completed VBM ballots at many early voting sites. 👇

How to vote

🗳 What do I need to vote? You need a Florida driver’s license or identification card issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles and a Social Security number to use Florida’s online voter registration system. The name and address on the ID must match your voter registration exactly, so you should plan to have your ID on hand. If you don’t have a Florida-issued ID, or don’t have your Florida-issued ID on hand, you can still register by mail to vote.

🗳 I moved and forgot to update my address. Am I too late? No, there’s still time! Call or visit your Supervisor of Elections office asap.

If you’ve moved to a different Florida county, or need to change your name or party affiliation, you must also re-submit a completed Florida Voter Registration Application (Form DS-DE 39) to the same Supervisor of Elections office.

🗳 I poured coffee on my ballot/the dog ate it/*insert ridiculous excuse here*. What should I do? Order a replacement ballot by calling your county Supervisor of Elections office. If you lost your ballot, filled in the wrong box, etc., it’s the same deal.

Who/What am I voting for?

🗳 Can someone please explain the 2020 Amendments in laymen’s terms? You got it. Ballotpedia made it easy for us. Get a breakdown of each here including the pros and cons and a breakdown of the support and opposition.

🗳 Who’s on the ballot?

If you want to brush up on the issues and see the litany of things you’ll be voting on ahead of time, here are a few tips:

Vote-by-Mail Qs, answered

🗳 Is it too late to sign up to Vote-By-Mail (VBM)? Assuming you’re already registered to vote, the deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. Trust us, you don’t want to dawdle on this one.

🗳 How do I sign up for VBM? Once you’re registered, head to Florida’s Division of Elections web page to sign up for VBM. Orange County residents can also visit the county’s VBM web page or call 305-499-8444 for additional information.

🗳 Can any voter request VBM? Yes, any voter registered in the state of Florida can vote by mail. Florida is a “no excuse needed” ballot request state, so you don’t need to have a particular reason beyond a desire to participate in democracy. 

🗳 My eyesight’s not so great. Can I still vote by mail? Orange County just launched the “Accessible Vote By Mail Pilot Project” for the visually-impaired. It’s one of five counties in Florida that’s participating. Read more about it here.

🗳 Where can I find out more about voting rights for voters with special needs? Start here, and if you have any questions or issues, contact the voting hotline of Disability Rights Florida, a leading statewide advocacy group, at 1-800-342-0823, ext. 6000.

🗳 When will I receive the VBM ballot I requested? Orange County started shipping out mail-in ballots to voters on Thursday, Oct. 1. If you’d like to track the status of your ballot once you’ve mailed it or dropped it off at an early voting location, you can visit the county’s online ballot tracking system. And if you’re concerned that there may have been a mix-up and you haven’t received your ballot yet, you can check Florida’s online voter information lookup for help: First, make sure to enter your name and birthday to check your voter registration status. Next, select “Access ballot and precinct information” followed by the “Vote-by-mail” heading, and follow prompts from there to see if/when your ballot was mailed and what address it was sent to.

If there’s a mistake you need to fix (or a problem you can’t figure out on your own), you can also contact your local Supervisor of Elections office.

🗳Can I only return my VBM ballot by mail? No, state law now allows for drop boxes at early voting sites, so you can drop your VBM ballot there rather than returning it by mail. Once early voting starts on Oct. 19, you can drop your completed ballot at any of the 20 early voting sites in Orange County, which are generally open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All the drop boxes are outside, and most are drive-through. All the drop boxes are attended, and ballots and boxes are collected each day. 

🗳 How will I know my ballot has been received? Florida residents can track the status of their ballots here. As a reminder, you can also use Orange County’s online ballot tracking system

Now what?

🗳 How can I get an ‘I Voted’ sticker like the cool kids if I vote by mail? The one downside of Florida’s vote-by-mail system is that no one hands you an ‘I Voted’ sticker for fulfilling your civic duty. But you can download a virtual sticker and share it on social media, and that’s almost as cool. 

🗳 I got my “I Voted” sticker, now what? Head to one of these local businesses on election day (or leading up to, check their sites!) for a thank you for fulfilling your civic duty.

Leave me with some levity, please

For some lighter reading, (election talk can leave you stressed and burnt tf out), follow this amazing photographic story of the life and times of a spirited New Yorker named Tanquerey.

This election guide was brought to you by Pulptown+ members. Want to see more coverage like this? Support our work by becoming a Pulptown+ member today.