You have the right to:
- Vote by yourself and make your own choices.
- Get help from a person of your choice or an election worker.
- Use a physically accessible polling place and an accessible voting machine.
- Vote if you have a guardian, unless a court determines you cannot.
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
The goal of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed by Congress in 2002, is to make the voting process more inclusive and accessible so that more Americans will become registered voters and participate in elections.
Disability Rights Florida (DRF) is the protection and advocacy agency designated by HAVA to help ensure accessible voting in Florida. Specialists on staff can answer questions, respond to legal violations, and troubleshoot problems related to your voting rights. There are no costs for these services.
Disability Rights Florida (DRF) provides the following services related to voters with disabilities:
- Educates voters, election workers, and other persons involved in the voting process about the rights of people with disabilities.
- Provides information to people with disabilities about voter registration and the chance to register to vote.
- Provides advice about access to polling places on Election Day.
- Works with groups representing people with disabilities and other organizations in registering voters and surveying polling places for accessibility.
- Represents/advocates for individuals with disabilities who have complaints about the voting process.
Who can register to vote?
Any United States citizen who:
- Is at least 18 years old on Election Day
- Is not in jail for a felony conviction or on parole for a felony conviction.
- Has not had their right to vote removed by a judge in a guardianship hearing.
How to register to vote.
- By mail: Request an application from your local voter registration office.
- In person: At the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Office, Public Library, Post Office, or any state agency that provides public assistance.
- Online: Use a computer and go to: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voter-registration/register-to-vote-or-update-your-information/.
Within 30 days of sending in your application, you will receive your voter registration card in the mail.
Different ways to vote.
In addition to voting in person on Election Day, you can vote in these ways:
- Annual application for ballot by mail: Voters with disabilities may apply for an annual application for ballot by mail. Voters who choose the annual option will receive a mail ballot for all elections held during a calendar year. Annual applications may be submitted starting January 1, but not later than 11 days before Election Day.
- Regular application for ballot by mail: Voters with disabilities who do not request an annual ballot by mail application may submit an application for a single election starting January 1, but not later than 11 days before Election Day.
To apply to vote by mail, call the Office of the Secretary of State at 850.245.6500.
- Early voting: You can vote early in person at any polling place in your county. Early voting begins 17 days before an election and ends four days before an election.
- Curbside voting: If you are physically unable to enter a polling place or stand in line to vote, you can ask an election official to bring your ballot to your vehicle or to the entrance of the polling place. You can vote curbside during early voting or on Election Day.
What to bring when you vote.
You must have ONE of the following current forms of identification when you vote:
- Driver’s License or ID
- Election Identification Certificate
- U.S. Military ID
- U.S. Citizenship Certificate with photo
- U.S. Passport
I have the right:
- To vote by myself and make my own choices.
- To get help from a person of my choice or an election worker.
- To a physically accessible polling place and the use of an accessible voting machine.
- To vote if I have a guardian, unless a court determines I cannot.
You Have a Right to Election Accommodations on Election Day:
- Ask to move to the front of the line.
- Bring someone to help you.
- Have headphones to hear your ballot.
- Have sample ballots in alternative format.
- Have accessible parking.
- Have temporary ramps.
- Use a communication board.
- Access voting machines for voters in wheelchairs.
- Use different colored voting screens.
Who may register to vote in Florida?
Any United States citizen residing in Florida who:
- Is at least 18 years old on Election Day;
- Has not been finally convicted of a felony, or if a prior felon, has completed all punishment (including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, or period of probation), or has received a pardon; and
- Has not been declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
How do I register to vote?
- By mail – Just get a registration form, fill it out, and mail it in. It is free.
- In person — Register at a voter registration agency.
Where can I get a registration form to mail in or register to vote in person?
They are available in many languages. They are available at the following places:
- All Department of Public Safety offices (where you go to get a driver’s license)
- All county voter registrar offices (In most counties, the office is part of the county tax assessor- collector’s office, but in some counties, it is part of the county clerk or elections administrator’s office. You can ask the county courthouse for the office location.)
- The Secretary of State’s Office (or call them at 850.245.6500)
- Public libraries
- Many post offices
- Many high schools
- On the internet at: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voter-registration/register-to-vote-or-update-your-information/
- Any office of a state agency that provides public assistance (Department of Transportation, Workforce Commission, Local Workforce Center, etc.)
- Any office that provides state-funded programs that help people with disabilities (Department of Aging and Disability Services, Department of State Health Services, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, etc.)
The offices that have the registration forms must also help you complete the forms, unless you refuse assistance.
In addition, political parties, activists groups, and private citizens can give out application forms. If they do, they must help you register, too, whether or not you agree with their politics or point of view.
If I am registering by mail, do I need to send anything else in besides the form?
No, not unless this is the first time you have registered to vote. First-time voters must also send in a photocopy of identification along with their registration form. Acceptable ID includes: A driver’s license; bank statement; utility bill; paycheck; or other government document that shows your name and address.
Note: If you chose not to send in a copy of identification when registering to vote as a first time voter, you will be required to show identification at the polls when you go to vote for the first time.
What is the deadline to register to vote for an upcoming election?
- You must register 30 days before an election to be eligible to vote in that election.
- If you are registering by mail, your application form must be postmarked at least 30 days before the election.
What if I have a disability and can’t leave the house?
- You can either register by mail, or
- If an agency is providing you with services in your home, and if they offer voter registration services, they must provide those voter registration services at your home.
What if I am staying in a hospital or other institution that is not in my home county?
If you reside in an institution, or somewhere else that is not in the same county as your permanent address, you can register to vote by mail in the county where your permanent address is. Then you can vote at your current residence with a vote-by-mail ballot. (See handout on Alternative Voting Options.)
What if I need help to register?
Anyone of your choice can help you register. Anyone you choose may fill out the registration card for you, in your presence. If you cannot sign you name, you may have a “witness” sign on your behalf. If you can make a mark of any kind, do so, in the signature line. Have your “witness” sign and date their name under the signature line, to indicate that they acted as your witness.
Is there a way to find out if I am already registered to vote?
You can call the Secretary of State’s office at 850.245.6500. This is the same number you would call to request an application by mail or to seek answers to any voting related question.
What happens after I register?
- Once you submit a voter registration application, a voter registration certificate (proof of registration) will be mailed to you within 30 days.
- Voter Registration Certificate – Check your certificate to be sure all information is correct. If there is a mistake, make corrections and return it to the voter registrar immediately.
- When you go to the polls to vote, present your certificate as proof of registration. Remember, if you did not present identification when registering to vote as a first-time voter, the poll worker will also ask you to show identification along with your certificate.
- If you do not have your certificate you may vote without it by signing an affidavit at the polling place and showing some other form of identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, copy of electric bill).
- If you lose your certificate, notify your county Voter Registrar in writing to receive a new one.
- You will automatically receive a new certificate every two years, if you haven’t moved from the address at which you are registered.
How do I make changes to my voter registration certificate?
If you move within the same county, promptly notify the Voter Registrar, in writing, of your new address by:
- Correcting your current voter registration certificate on the back and returning it to the Voter Registrar;
- Filling out a new voter registration application form and checking the “change” box;
- Making simultaneous changes to your driver’s license and voter registration when you apply for or update your driver’s license;
- Request changes to your name and/or address on your voter registration card online at http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voter-registration/register-to-vote-or-update-your-information/; or
- Contact any of the designated voter registration offices.
You will receive a new certificate with your new address. You will be able to vote in your new precinct 30 days after your change of address is submitted.
If you move to another county:
- You must re-register! Fill out a new application and mail it, or take it in person, to the Voter Registrar of your new county, or register in any way that is listed above. You will be registered 30 days after your application is submitted. You will receive a new certificate.
If you have a name change:
- Promptly notify the Voter Registrar, in writing, of the change using the same steps as for HOW TO MAKE CHANGES TO A VOTER REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE.
- You will receive a new certificate 30 days after your name change notice is submitted.
You may continue to vote during this period. If you do not have your certificate in hand, you may sign an affidavit at the polls and present a form of identification.
- To fix a problem at the polls, before you leave the polling place
- Talk to the head election judge, and if they can’t fix it, ask them to contact a county or city election official. If that doesn’t work,
- Contact Florida Division of Elections at 850.245.6200 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org,
- File a written complaint at your polling place.
- If you can’t get into your polling place, you can register and vote from your vehicle.
- Ask the head judge to find two election judges to come outside to help you.
- If you are under a guardianship…
- You still have the right to vote UNLESS your guardianship order says that the court has taken away your right to vote.
- If someone challenges your right to vote, the election judge must
- Put you under oath and have you swear to tell the truth;
- Ask you whether you are under a court ordered guardianship where the court took away your right to vote;
- If you answer that you are eligible to vote, you MUST be allowed to vote.
- If you cannot sign your name…
- You have the right to tell the election judge who you are and tell another person to sign your name for you on the roster.
- You have the right to ask for help voting.
- Any person you choose can go with you into the voting booth – except an agent of your employer or union, or a candidate.
- It is against the law for anyone in the polling place to try to influence your vote.
- You can ask someone to mark your ballot for you.
- It is against the law for them to mark the ballot for you if you cannot communicate to them who you want to vote for.
- You have the right to take a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.
- If you make a mistake before submitting your ballot
- You may go back and make corrections, follow the directions on the voting system screen or ask for help from a voting official.
This is a basic guide to accessibility to assist in identifying barriers and potential solutions to ensure access to voters with disabilities. Election officials should try to select fully accessible polling places and conduct the full Department of Justice accessibility survey.
Parking and Drop-Off Areas
- If parking is provided, at least one accessible parking spot that is nearest to the accessible entrance must be provided for every 25 regular parking spaces.
- The first accessible spot should be van accessible with an access aisle at least 8ft wide.
- Accessible parking spots should be relatively level and not have loose gravel or dirt.
- If drop-off area is provided, it should be level and have an access aisle that is at least 5ft deep and 20ft long where people can access entrance (near ramp if necessary).
Solutions: Traffic cones can be used to mark accessible parking spaces and access aisles. Heavy duty mats can be used to level out uneven surfaces.
Paths of Travel
- There must be an accessible path from parking spot to entrance and voting area.
- Path must be at least 36 inches wide and free of steps or level changes more than ½ inch.
- If accessible path crosses traffic, a marked crosswalk should be used.
- Where path crosses curb, a curb cut or temporary ramp should be used.
- Ramps can’t be steep. For every 1 inch high, a ramp must be at least 12 inches long.
Preventing Obstructions for Voters Who are Blind or Have Low Vision
- People who are blind can easily run into objects that hang from above (ex. tree limbs), are open beneath (ex. staircases), or protrude from the side (ex. trophy cases).
Solution: Place a barrier within 27 inches of the floor so cane can detect the obstruction.
Entrance to Polling Place and Voting Area
- Doorways must be at least 32 inches wide.
- Threshold must not be more than ¾ inches high at door and must be beveled on each side.
- No heavy doors.
- No slick, round door handles.
Solutions: If door is too heavy to open easily, adjust door closer, disconnect operating arm, or prop door open on Election Day. If smooth round handles are on door, use temporary hardware or prop door open. If threshold is two high, use temporary threshold ramp on each side that is too high.
- An accessible voting machine on wheelchair accessible booth should be located along an accessible path in a location that ensures privacy.
Visit www.866ourvote.org or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
if you have any issues or concerns related to Election Day.
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