Orlando Weekly's 2020 General Election Guide

Your guide to making a difference in 2020

click to enlarge Orlando Weekly's 2020 General Election Guide (2)
U.S. Capitol photo via Adobe Stock

Orlando Weekly's 2020 General Election Guide is a roundup of voting options and strategies for the November election. Check out our Guide to the Orange County Ballot also.

The Important Dates

  • Deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot: Oct. 24, 5 p.m.
  • Early Voting: Monday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all 14 days.
  • Election Day, your last day to vote: Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • At 7 p.m. on election day, no more ballots are accepted locally. Postmarks do not count.

Use the Official Sources

Polling locations and rules can change; check your county's elections website. Our Ballot Guide this year covers only Orange County, but the supervisor of elections websites in Seminole, Osceola, Volusia, Lake and Sumter counties are the best places to answer specific voting questions, as is the state elections website:

The Orange County Supervisor of Elections is located at 119 W. Kaley St., and their phone number is 407-836-2070. You can request or drop off a ballot there in person.

Vote by Mail (VBM)

Request your VBM ballot in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia and Lake counties.

You do not need to be traveling or have another reason to request a ballot in the mail. 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, is the deadline to request a vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot be sent to you. Or you can pick one up at the Supervisor of Elections office (119 W. Kaley St.). There are a few ways to return your ballot, but it must be returned no later than 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Return it right away. Do not wait to return your ballot. If you lose it, go early vote, starting on Monday, Oct. 19. You can get a new ballot and vote in person. The USPS recommends returning your mail-in ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 27, a week before election day.

If the thought of sending your ballot through the mail freaks you out, you can place it in a secure dropbox. They are located at the SOE office on Kaley Street, and at all 20 Orange County early voting locations during voting hours.

In Orange County, the postage is pre-paid – no stamps are required. If you forget to include the secrecy sleeve, your ballot will still count.

Voters can track vote-by-mail ballots with their county supervisor of elections. In Orange County, check here: www.ocfelections.com/track-my-vote-mail-ballot

You can see when you requested a ballot, when it was sent to you, and when it was received and counted. You can also see if there was a problem, like a signature mismatch. You have until 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, to notice if your vote wasn't counted and "cure" your ballot, or resolve the issue.

Vote early, in person

Where to vote early: in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia and Lake counties. Early voting takes place Monday, Oct. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 1.

Voting in this year's general election began in early October for many Floridians, when vote-by-mail ballots landed in thousands of mailboxes. On Monday, Oct. 19, Central Floridians will begin visiting polling locations when early voting starts.

You can vote in person whether or not you have requested a mail-in ballot. Early voting is the best way to vote in-person, since there is greater flexibility on the weekday, fewer people, and you don't have to wait on the mail. Early voting lasts 14 days this year, through Sunday, Nov. 1, but there is no voting on the Monday before election day, Nov. 2, except for dropping off a ballot.

There are 20 early-voting locations in Orange County, and all of them are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. You can visit any location you like. You may take a selfie or photo outside the polling location, but photography is prohibited inside. (Another great reason to fill out your ballot in advance.)

All locations are taking health and safety precautions, like using plexiglass shields, hand sanitizer, wipes and disinfectant spray. Wear a mask and feel free to bring your own black ballpoint pen.

Voting on Election Day (Why wait?)

Where to vote on election day in: Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia and Lake counties. You must show up at your designated polling location on Nov. 3 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

If the most powerful people in America wanted you to vote, they wouldn't have scheduled election day on a Tuesday in November. The concept of "Election Day" itself is a form of voter suppression — along with the whole registration process. But here we are.

You can buck the system and avoid drama by voting early. Otherwise, you must show up to ONLY your assigned precinct's polling location.

That's why voting early, well before the voting deadline of 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, is such a good idea.

While you're there, remember to vote for elected officials who will remove barriers to voting, rather than making any of this more difficult. Also, be sure to post your "I Voted" photo and tag us on Orlando Weekly's social channels with #OrlandoWeeklyVotes!

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