In this especially divisive election season, Americans have shattered early-voting records. Millions of Floridians had already cast mail-in ballots by the time early in-person voting began October 19. With Election Day less than a week away, nearly half of active registered voters in Miami-Dade have cast their ballots either in person or by mail.
Still, more than 270,000 Miami-Dade voters who received mail-in ballots have not returned them, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
If you're still in possession of your ballot and want to vote by mail, it's technically not too late to send it in. But given recent United States Postal Service delays, you might want to consider taking it to an official ballot drop box at any one of the 33 early-voting sites in Miami-Dade County.
Here's what you need to know about filling in and returning your mail-in ballot ahead of the November 3 general election.
Preparing your ballot
Once you've filled out your mail-in ballot, you must sign inside the red box on the back of the envelope. State elections departments match those signatures with the ones in voter-registration records to verify voters' identities. Failure to sign the envelope could result in having your ballot rejected. Signatures change over time, and if your current signature doesn't match the one on file, your ballot could also be rejected.
Voters have the option of providing their email addresses and phone numbers on the back of their ballot envelopes. Election department officials would use this contact information to reach out if there are issues with your ballot.
Some voters oppose providing their contact information on the back of the ballot and worry it could lead to identity theft. Miami-Dade's Supervisor of Elections Christina White has said voters are not required to provide their contact information if they don't want to.
"If you don't put the contact information on the outside of the envelope, which is how all supervisors of election do it throughout the state, we'd use whatever contact information we have on file, if we have it, and if it's still good," White said at a county commission meeting earlier this month.
How to drop off your ballot yourself
All completed ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Not mailed by. Received by.
If you want to eliminate the risk that the USPS might fail to deliver your ballot on time, you can cut out the middle man and take it to an official drop box.
Official ballot drop boxes can be found at every early voting site in Miami-Dade (see the map below). Early voting locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sunday, November 1.
Once you arrive at one of the sites, Miami-Dade Elections Department staff will confirm that the signature on your ballot matches the one on your driver's license, passport, or other form of ID. Then, you can watch them insert the ballot into the secure drop box.
Voters can also drop off their vote-by-mail ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, November 2, and Tuesday, November 3 — that'd be Election Day — but only at the following four locations:
- Miami-Dade Elections Department, 2700 NW 87th Ave., Miami 33172
- North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens 33056
- South Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay 33189
- Stephen P. Clark Center lobby, 111 NW First St., Miami 33128
You cannot drop off your mail-in ballot at your designated precinct on Election Day. But you can bring your ballot, surrender it to an Elections Department staffer, and then vote in person.
Tracking your ballot
Once you submit your ballot, you can keep track of when it has been received and counted. Miami-Dade's online ballot-tracking system requires users to provide their first and last names and date of birth.
The online system also shows voters' polling places and early-voting dates and locations.
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