COMMENTARY: Absentee and Early Voting
October 07, 2012
For more information contact:
Jennifer J. Edwards, Collier County Supervisor of Elections
This week, the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office is mailing its first batch of domestic mail/absentee ballots for the upcoming November 6th General Election. Approximately 38,000 absentee ballots are being sent to voters who will be out of town during the election, or who merely prefer to vote in the comfort of their own home.
In the not-so-distant past, absentee ballots were reserved for voters who could not make it to an early voting site or the polls on Election Day. However, since our state enacted the “no-excuse” absentee law, any voter registered in Florida can take advantage of this convenient voting method.
If voting by mail/absentee, voters can vote wherever they are located throughout the world, and can read the ballot at their own pace. This can be especially helpful during the upcoming election. We expect a very high turnout, and have a ballot that is 3 printed sheets, or 6 pages, of content. This includes over 2,600 words for the state constitutional amendments. Voters who vote absentee will be able to research the issues and study the ballot at their leisure in a stress-free environment, avoiding the long lines that may occur at polling places.
Contrary to what you may have heard, each valid absentee ballot is counted. In fact, absentee ballots signal the start of actual voting for each election, and absentee votes are among the first results released on Election Day. To comply with Florida law and ensure the integrity of each voter’s absentee/mail ballot, our office verifies that the voter’s signature on the ballot return envelope matches the voter’s signature on record from their voter registration form.
Tips for voting by mail/absentee:
- Voters may submit requests online via the CollierVotes.com “Vote by Mail” web page or by phone to the Supervisor of Elections office, (239) 252-8450. A voter’s immediate family member can also make the request.
- By law, mail/absentee ballots are not forwarded and can only be delivered to the address provided to the Supervisor of Elections office.
- The deadline for voters to request a General Election absentee ballot to be delivered by mail is October 31st at 5:00pm. After that date, voters can pick up their absentee ballots at the Supervisor of Elections office after calling in their request.
- Voted absentee ballots must be returned to the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office by 7:00pm on Election Day, November 6th (overseas ballots must be received by Nov. 16th).
- Ballots can be dropped off at the main office or Orange Blossom branch, or mailed in the official ballot envelope provided.
- Absentee voters who return their ballot by mail should allow plenty of time for the ballot to reach our office, and be sure to affix postage of $0.65 (65 cents).
- If a voter’s signature has changed since registering to vote, it should be updated with our office by completing a voter registration application.
- Voters who receive a mail/absentee ballot and decide to vote in person during Early Voting or at their assigned precinct on Election Day should bring their marked or unmarked mail/absentee ballot to the polls so it can be cancelled.
- For additional absentee voting requirements, visit the CollierVotes.com "Mail/Absentee" information page.
If you are not convinced that a mail/absentee ballot is for you, and you prefer to vote in person, consider early voting. There are 7 convenient early voting locations throughout Collier County, which will be open from October 27th through November 3rd (including Sunday, October 28th) from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Early voting allows you to vote outside of your home precinct, for example, closer to your workplace or child’s school, and during weekend or evening hours. Voters will also have the opportunity to check early voting wait times at each location before heading out to vote, by visiting www.CollierVotes.com.
Voters who are interested in seeing a preview of their ballot today can go to the CollierVotes.com "My Sample Ballot" web page. Additionally, each eligible voter who is not voting absentee will be mailed or emailed a sample ballot starting October 9th. You can bring a marked sample ballot with you to your early voting site or assigned precinct on Election Day for assistance in voting.
Whichever voting method you choose, the important thing is, simply, to vote and be sure your voice is heard. Remember, in the 2000 General Election, there were only 537 votes between Bush and Gore when the final Florida results were certified. This demonstrates that every vote does indeed count and make a difference. If you are not yet registered to vote, you must do so before October 9th in order to participate in the General Election. For more details, and to update your voter information, visit www.CollierVotes.com or call the Supervisor of Elections office at (239) 252-8450.