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Frequently Asked Questions: Voting by Mail

VIEW VIDEO: Voting by Mail (The Complete Mail Ballot Process) on our streaming video page

What is the difference between an absentee ballot and a mail ballot?

Nothing. These are two terms to describe the same type of ballot. The mail ballot is a more accurate term because voters no longer need an excuse to vote by mail. Legislation passed in 2016 replaced the term “absentee ballot” with the term “vote-by-mail ballot” throughout the Florida Statutes. (Effective July 1, 2016). Any registered eligible voter may vote by mail. All eligible mail ballots are counted in an election, the same as precinct ballots and early voting ballots.

How do I request a mail ballot?

In Florida, voters don’t need to provide a reason to request a mail ballot. Voting by mail provides voters with the flexibility and convenience to vote from their homes. Completed ballots may be mailed to the Supervisor of Elections or dropped off at any of three elections offices. Voters who are out of the area during an election — including college students living away from home and military personnel — will find voting by mail especially convenient.

To request a mail ballot, call the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office at (727) 464-VOTE (8683).

Do I need a medical reason to vote by mail?

No, any registered voter may request a mail ballot.

Will my mail ballot be forwarded if I have moved since requesting a ballot?

No. BALLOTS ARE NOT FORWARDABLE - Be sure to provide your current mailing address to ensure delivery.

How far in advance can I request mail ballots?

Mail ballot requests can be made for all elections through the calendar year of the second regularly scheduled general election. After that, you will need to renew your request. Remember to notify the Elections office if you have any updates to your registration information to ensure you receive your ballot as requested. 

Is there a deadline to request a mail ballot?

Yes. A ballot must be requested no later than 5 p.m. the Wednesday prior to an election in order for the Elections office to mail it to you. After that, you may still pick up a mail ballot through the day before the election. By state law, mail ballots cannot be issued on Election  Day except in the case of an emergency, to the extent that the voter will be unable to go to his or her assigned polling place. The voter or voter's designee must submit an affidavit regarding the emergency. (Effective January 1, 2014)

How are mail ballots counted/processed?

Ballots are collected as they arrive at the three elections offices in person or by mail. Florida statutes allow mail ballots to be opened and processed beginning 15 days before the election. Mail ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Election Day in any Elections Office, after which mail ballot results are added to election totals.  Mail ballots cannot be received at the precinct polling place to be counted - only to be cancelled.

***PLEASE NOTE: Postal delivery service has changed.  Voters are advised to allow at least ONE WEEK for their ballot to be returned by mail to the Supervisor of Elections office.

 I have a mail ballot, but would like to vote on Election Day. Can I still vote?

Yes. If you have received a mail ballot, but you would prefer to vote at your precinct, take your mail ballot (the entire kit) with you to your polling place. Poll workers will mark the mail ballot “cancelled,” and you’ll be allowed to vote a regular ballot at the polling place. If you do not take your ballot to the polls, a poll worker will confirm that your ballot was NOT received before issuing a regular ballot to you. If elections staff cannot confirm that your ballot has NOT been received, you may vote a provisional ballot, and the canvassing board will later determine the validity of the ballot.

Do I have to sign the ballot envelope? Is my signature going to be checked?

Yes. State law requires that a mail ballot certificate envelope be signed by the voter in order to be counted, unless other provisions are made pursuant to F.S. 101.68(4). Your signature on the envelope will be compared with the signature on your voter file to verify your identity. If you need to update your signature on file, please complete and submit a Voter Registration Application to our office, checking the "Record Update/Change" box in the top line. Signature updates must be received before the canvassing board begins canvassing mail ballots - no sooner than the 15th day prior to an election.

Can I request a mail ballot for a family member?

Yes. You may request a mail ballot for a family member. Call the Supervisor of Elections at (727) 464-VOTE (8683). Provide your name, address and date of birth. Requests mailed in must be signed.
(OPTIONAL REQUEST FORM / Spanish - DS DE 37)

Can someone else pick up my mail ballot for me?

Yes. You may designate in writing a person to pick up a mail ballot for you beginning five days before an election. Your designee will need a photo ID and signed note from you in order to pick up the ballot. NOTE:  Any person who provides or offers to provide, and any person who accepts, a pecuniary or other benefit in exchange for distributing, ordering, requesting, collecting, delivering, or otherwise physically possessing more than two mail ballots per election in addition to his or her own ballot or a ballot belonging to an immediate family member, except as provided in F.S. 101.6105-101.695, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in F.S. 775.082, 775.083 or 775.084. (Effective January 1, 2014)

What is a mail ballot election?

Florida statutes provide for an election to be conducted by all-mail ballot under certain circumstances. View Frequently Asked Questions about Mail Ballot Elections.