With COVID-19 restrictions and political interference, how can students vote safely while still knowing their voice will be heard? How can you register to vote?
It is a tumultuous time in America, and our electoral system is no exception. With COVID-19 still taking the lives of hundreds of Americans each day, it’s no surprise that many are worried about voting safely.
Luckily, Florida is one of 34 states that has provided for no-excuse absentee voting this year, which means voters can request to pick up a ballot or have one mailed to them without having a reason.
Still, for inexperienced voters, voting can be a daunting task! Here is how to vote safely during COVID-19, with the help of resident Fort Lauderdale High School voting expert Ms. Segal.
How do I know I’m registered to vote?
You can check your registration status on the Supervisor of Elections’ website, using your legal name and birth date.
What do I do if I’m not registered to vote?
There’s still time! The registration deadline for the general election is October 5th, and you can easily register to vote online by going to https://registertovoteflorida.gov/home, assuming you meet the following criteria:
- You are over the age of 18. You can pre-register at 16.
- You have a state-issued ID or driver’s license.
- You have a Social Security number.
- You otherwise meet the requirements to vote, such as being a citizen.
Registering to vote online takes about five to ten minutes.
Okay, I’m registered to vote. How do I get my ballot if I want to vote by mail?
You can find the request form on the Supervisor of Elections’ website. You have to submit your request at least 10 days before the election, but you should request it sooner if possible to make sure you have the most time to get your ballot back to the Supervisor of Elections.
Do I have to vote by mail to stay safe?
“Depending on your polling precinct, you may want to physically vote on election day, like I do,” said Ms. Segal.
Some polling precincts are less crowded this year and choosing a wise time to go vote means you may not have to deal with crowds at all. Precincts are taking extra precautions, such as individual pens and hand sanitizer, to keep voters safe.
There is also the option of voting at any of the early voting sites between October 19 and November 1. A list of these locations is available on the Supervisor of Elections’ website.
When can I expect my ballot if I vote by mail?
Mail ballots typically arrive 30 days before the election, assuming you put in a request before that point. Otherwise, it will be sent within two days (though it could get to you later than that).
Because of delays to the mail and the current pandemic, it’s a wise idea to request your ballot early and complete it in a timely manner.
What do I do with my mail ballot when I’m done?
“A cool thing that Broward has done is make 20 more drop off ballot locations available to us,” Ms. Segal noted.
Now numbering 22, these drop-off boxes are available at each of the early voting locations (list) and are open from 7 am to 7 pm, at the same time the early voting stations are open. There are two additional, 24-hour drop boxes at the Supervisor of Elections’ offices in Fort Lauderdale (115 S. Andrews Ave. #102, inside the Government Center) and Lauderhill (1501 NW 40th Avenue, inside the Lauderhill Mall).
You can still send your ballot through the mail, and check its progress on the Supervisor of Elections’ registration status website.
As in any year, voting is an important way to make your voice heard and effect change in groups.
“From all the reading I have done about this–I have learned that it is your generation that will make the needed changes we need to run government in a way that is more responsive to the people,” said Ms. Segal. “So, the only thing I can say is vote, because if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally titled “Making Sense of a Confusing Election”. It has been renamed to make obvious its intent and help readers find information on the registration process.
-Benjamin Schnirman, Editor