Did you vote by mail in Florida? Yes, your request was purged from Florida’s system. Here’s why. | Opportunity For All Floridians

Did you vote by mail in Florida? Yes, your request was purged from Florida’s system. Here’s why.

As of December 31, 2022, every Florida voter’s vote-by-mail request was purged from Florida’s system.

The Florida Legislature passed S.B. 90 in 2021, which requires every Florida voter to renew their vote-by-mail requests after the 2022 general election.

The reason for this goes back to 2021, when the Florida Legislature passed a new law, SB 90.

Vote-by-mail requests in Florida used to be good for two election cycles. Now, those requests are only valid for one cycle.

Under changes made in 2021 to the state’s election law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, counties must now purge requests after every general election.

Effectively, it means that in order to participate in future elections via mail-in voting, Florida voters must re-enroll in vote-by-mail every election cycle.

Vote-by-mail has many benefits to our society, including accessibility for military personnel, the elderly, and voters with disabilities, added convenience, security and accuracy for all voters, and, perhaps most importantly for the health of our democracy, it has proven to increase voter participation. In fact, it’s become Florida’s most popular form of voting.

In the 2022 general election, 2.77 million Floridians voted by mail. That was just ahead of the election day turnout of 2.73 million and 2.3 million ballots cast during early in-person voting.

Accessibility: Vote-By-Mail is great for all voters, especially military voters, elderly voters, and voters with disabilities

A soldier in the U.S. Army holding up an official absentee balloting envelope while serving in Iraq in 2008.
Spc. Andrea Boyd, aviation supply specialist of Task Force 34, B Company, 834th Aviation Support Battalion in Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The native of Ankeny, Iowa holds her election ballot she recently received in the mail. [military photo]

One of the major benefits of vote-by-mail is that it allows military personnel, elderly voters, and voters with disabilities to cast their ballots without physically having to go to polling places. In fact, the US military has used Vote-By-Mail to allow military personnel to participate in our elections going all the way back to the Civil War. Removing unnecessary barriers to voting increases the ability of these voters to participate in elections, and drives up voter participation rates across the board. Vote-by-mail provides an important opportunity for these voters to have their voices heard, regardless of their physical ability to get to a polling place.

Convenient and Flexible Options with Increased Voter Participation

Studies have shown that vote by mail increases voter participation. There are obvious benefits to vote-by-mail, such as removing the need to take time off from work or arrange for transportation to a polling place. But, another benefit of receiving one’s ballot weeks ahead of time may be the effect of seeing that ballot sitting on the kitchen table over several days, which has the added benefit of reminding voters that it is time to pay attention to a local or state election. Voters have the ability to take their time, research little-known candidates for lower-profile offices, or ballot questions, and they can fill out their ballots at home and return them via mail. This convenience leads to higher voter turnout and a more representative outcome in elections.

A Good Failsafe Option

Voters voting in person at a polling location (stock photo)
Florida voters can still vote in person, even if they have requested a Vote-By-Mail ballot.

Vote-By-Mail should be viewed as an option. Many voters sign up to receive a Vote-By-Mail as a failsafe, even if they prefer to go vote in person at their local polling location. And that is perfectly fine: signing up to receive a vote-by-mail ballot does not obligate a voter to vote in that method. A voter who has received a Vote-By-Mail ballot can take their unused ballot and surrender it to the poll worker at their precinct and then vote in person.

Secure and Accurate

Vote-by-mail is a secure and accurate voting method, with several safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. Signature verification is one such safeguard, as it ensures that only the registered voter is casting their ballot. Voter signatures are checked either when a voter drops their ballot off at a secure ballot intake station (dropbox), and an election worker checks it in front of them. Otherwise, signatures are checked at the Supervisor of Elections office when the ballot is received by mail. 

An election worker stamps a vote-by-mail ballot dropped off by a voter before placing it in an official ballot drop box before at the Miami-Dade County Board of Elections, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Additionally, the secure transportation of ballots from the voter to the election office—either via the US Postal Service or directly from the secure ballot intake station to the election office transported by election workers—helps to prevent fraud and maintain the accuracy of the voting process. Finally, voters can check that their ballot was received and counted by calling, or going online to the website of their county supervisor of election and checking on the status of their ballot. With these safeguards in place, voters can feel confident that their votes will be counted accurately and securely.

In conclusion, vote-by-mail is a convenient, secure, and accurate option for Florida voters. With the removal of all Florida voters from the vote-by-mail enrollment as of December 31, 2022, it is important for residents to re-enroll in order to participate in future elections. With the benefits of increased voter participation, accessibility for military personnel, elderly, and disabled voters, and convenience for all voters who lead busy lives, it is worth it to renew your vote-by-mail request for upcoming elections.

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