Sophia Gonzalez

As COVID-19 alters how we interact with each other, having a voting plan for the Nov. 3 election will ensure public safety.

There are three ways to vote: absentee voting, early voting and election day voting.Information on the different ways to vote can be found below. 

Absentee Voting 

Absentee voting allows voters to vote by mail. Absentee ballots were used to describe mailed-in-ballots from people who are outside of their polling place, but due to COVID-19 concerns, a lot of states have made it easier for voters to cast an absentee ballot. 

In order to absentee vote, potential voters must be registered to vote then request an absentee ballot. Voters can request their mail ballots by contacting their county’s Supervisor of Elections, which can be done in person, online or by telephone. Once the absentee ballot has been requested, the Supervisor of Elections has two days to mail out the ballot. Voters can also opt to pick up their ballot at the Supervisor of Elections office. 

The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot in Florida is at 5 p.m. 10 days before election day. The U.S. postal service recommends that ballots be sent out at least one week before the election in order to avoid any potential delays. Completed ballots in Florida must be received no later than Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.  

When requesting an absentee ballot, voters must be prepared to provide name, address, date of birth and their signature.  

To find out your state’s individual deadlines to request an absentee ballot and when a voted absentee ballot is due, visit vote.org.  

For more information about Florida’s deadlines, rules and guidelines about vote by mail or to request an absentee ballot visit Florida’s Division of Elections website. 

In order to find out individual state’s deadlines, rules and guidelines about vote-by-mail and absentee voting visit usa.gov and select the state you’re casting your ballot for. 

Mistakes that can disqualify mail-in-ballot

There are a handful of mistakes that can prevent a voter’s ballot from being disqualified. In order to avoid these mistakes, voters should make sure to read their ballot’s instructions. 

Filling out ballots: If voters use red ink or markers instead of blue or black ink as stated in the instructions, their vote could be disqualified. Any stray marks or markings can also disqualify one’s vote.

Signatures: Failure to sing one’s ballot or using a different signature than the one that appears on personal state files – usually signatures should match one’s driver’s license signature – will lead to ballot rejection. 

 

Additional documentation: Some states require additional documentation to be sent in when turning in a mail-in-ballot. Rules vary between states, but some states require voters to send a copy of a photo ID when they mail in their ballots or a witness’ signature in order to authenticate the ballot. 

 

Voters can track their ballots online at their respective state’s Division of Elections Voter Information Lookup or at their county’s Supervisor of Elections website. 

 

Early Voting 

 

Early voting allows voters to vote prior to election day on select polling locations. The overall process and equipment used is the same as on election day voting. Unlike election day voting, voters may vote at any of the available polling locations in their district. 

 

Below are the addresses of polling sites in Lakeland. Voters registered to vote in Polk County can vote in these locations. Early in-person-voting in Polk County will be available from Oct. 19 to Nov 1. Dates may vary in other states and counties. 

 

Lakeland: Polk County Government Center, 930 E Parker St

 

LakelandSimpson Park Community Center, 1725 Martin L King Jr Ave

 

For more information about early voting locations in Polk County visit the Polk County Supervisor of Elections website. 

 

Information about early voting is available at your respective counties Supervisor of Elections website. Find your state at usa.gov.

 

Election Day Voting  

 

Election day is on Nov. 3. Polls in Florida open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Any person waiting in line by 7 p.m. will be able to vote.. 

 

Information about where to vote as a Polk County resident can be found at Polk County Supervisor of Elections website. 

 

Information about voting is available at your respective counties Supervisor of Elections website. 

 

The most common use of identification requested for voting is a state-issued photo ID, but more information about what form of identification to bring can be found at the National Conference of State Legislation website.  

 

Information about the voter’s polling location can be found in their voter identification card. 

 

Last day to register to vote was Oct. 5. 

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