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Miami Voting Got You Confused? We've Got Answers

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Election Day is Tuesday, and if long early-voting lines are any indication, voters should be armed with patience.

The ballot is long -- 12 pages in some cities -- and complicated. And a presidential election always leads to high turnout.

Despite requests from Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups, particularly in South Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott told the Associated Press late Thursday that he will not extend early voting, which ends at 7 p.m. Saturday. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it will monitor Miami-Dade early voting to ensure the county is complying with a federal law protecting minorities' voting rights.

To make things a little easier, The Miami Herald compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions about voting. The answers come from the Miami-Dade and Broward elections supervisor's offices.

The best advice for voters: Do your homework. Research the races and questions on the lengthy ballot. Find your polling place. If you're voting early, check the wait times online before you go.

And maybe bring a book.

General questions

- How long is the ballot?

For most Miami-Dade voters, the ballot is 10 pages long (five pages printed front-and-back). The ballot is 12 pages long in Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay and North Bay Village. View a general sample ballot online here, or view a personalized sample ballot online here.

For most Broward voters, the ballot is eight pages long (four pages front-and-back). The ballot is 10 pages long in Pembroke Pines. View a general sample ballot here (scroll down to "Sample Ballot").

In both counties, the ballot is printed in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.

- I have no party affiliation. Who can I vote for on the ballot?

Unlike in a primary election, any voter can vote for any candidate on their ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

Why do Republicans appear on the ballot before Democrats?

Under state law, the party of the governor dictates the ballot order for partisan races. Gov. Rick Scott is a Republican.

- Why aren't there races for all of my districts on the ballot?

There are several possible reasons. Not all seats are up for reelection this year. A candidate may have drawn no opposition, and so he or she was automatically reelected. A candidate may have won in the primary.

- What does "write-in" mean?

A write-in candidate who qualified to run for office but did not pay a qualifying fee or collect petition signatures to have his or her name appear on the ballot. The candidate's name must be written on the ballot by voters.

- What does "at-large" mean?

A seat that serves the entire county. The Broward School Board, for example, has two at-large seats elected by voters countywide and not in specific districts.

- Why is there no Amendment 7 on my ballot?

The Florida Supreme Court removed the proposed amendment, ruling the language was ambiguous. State lawmakers rewrote it and placed it on the ballot as Amendment 8. There are 11 amendments total.

- By what percentage do ballot questions have to be approved in order to pass?

Amendments to the Florida Constitution must be approved by 60 percent-plus-1 of the electorate statewide in order to pass. Local ballot questions require 50 percent-plus-1, except for the Miami-Dade question regarding the Crandon Park tennis center. That question requires two-thirds-plus-1 in order to pass, because of a requirement in the county charter.

- Can I leave any races or questions on the ballot blank?

Yes, though before scanning your ballot, a poll worker may ask you if you left the questions blank on purpose.

- Do I need to bring my voter card to my precinct or early-voting site?

No. You need to bring a valid photo and signature ID, such as a Florida driver's license (the quickest document to process) or U.S. passport. An ID is not required for absentee voters, but the signature on the ballot envelope must match the signature on file at the elections department.

Absentee voting

- Can I still request an absentee ballot?

Only in person, at the elections supervisor's office.

In Miami-Dade, the main office is located at 2700 NW 87th Ave., Doral.

In Broward, call 954-357-7050 to request a pick-up time. The ballots can be picked up at a satellite office at 1501 NW 40th Ave. (N. State Rd. 7/441), Lauderhill.

- Do I need a reason to request an absentee ballot?

No.

How late can I mail my absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots must arrive no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Postage is pre-paid on Miami-Dade absentee ballots. The Broward elections supervisor says ballot postage is $1.50. Absentee ballot envelopes must be signed, and the signature must match the signature on record with the elections office.

- What happens to my ballot after I mail it in?

If the signature on the ballot envelope matches the one on record, the ballot is opened and counted. Absentee results are the first ones reported on Election Night. If the signature does not match, then the ballot remains closed. A canvassing board that meets regularly before and after Election Day decides whether to accept the ballot.

- How do I know my ballot counted? Is there a way to track my ballot?

You can track your absentee ballots online, here for Miami-Dade and here for Broward .

- Can I turn in my absentee ballot in person? If so, where?

Yes, but not at your precinct on Election Day.

In Miami-Dade, voters may turn in their absentee ballots in person at all early voting sites, without waiting in line. Voters should go straight to a poll worker, who will ask for photo ID before accepting the ballot.

Voters may also turn in their ballots in person through 7 p.m. on Election Day at the elections department, 2700 NW 87th Ave., Doral, or at the satellite office in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW 1st St., Miami. The Doral office will be open Sunday, from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., to accept absentee ballots.

In Broward, voters may turn in their absentee ballots through 7 p.m. on Election Day at the elections supervisor's office, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Room 102, Fort Lauderdale, or at 1501 NW 40th Ave. (N. State Rd. 7/441), Lauderhill. Both offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday to accept absentee ballots.

In both counties, voters who show up at their precincts on Election Day with an absentee ballot will be asked to cancel their absentee ballots and vote in person.

- Can I turn in someone else's absentee ballot?

In Miami-Dade, voters may turn in their own ballot and one belonging to an immediate family member. A voter may also turn in a ballot belonging to someone who is not a family member if that person has filled out an affidavit, available here.

In Broward, voters may turn in an unlimited number of ballots in person, but they will be asked to fill out a log noting whose ballot they are turning in and including their own name and signature.

- If I requested an absentee ballot and have yet to receive it, or if it has yet to arrive at the elections department, can I still vote in person?

Yes, but there's fine print. Voters will be allowed to vote in person if poll workers confirm that the elections department has not received their absentee ballot. The absentee ballot will be canceled. If the elections department cannot determine whether it has received the voter's absentee ballot, the voter may be asked to cast a provisional ballot.

- If I changed my mind, can I ask the elections department to throw away my absentee ballot and have a do-over?

No. Once an absentee ballot is cast, it cannot be revoked or amended.

Early voting

- When and where can I vote early?

Saturday is the last day to vote early. Early-voting sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. You must vote in the county where you live.

There are 20 early-voting sites in Miami-Dade, listed here, and 17 early-voting sites in Broward, listed here.

- Can I look up wait times at early-voting sites?

Estimated wait times are available online. Miami-Dade updates the times hourly here. Broward updates the times every two hours here (scroll down to "Early Voting Wait Times").

- Will there be parking?

Parking has been tight at some early-voting sites. There are overflow lots in some cases. And parking should be at least a little better on Saturday, when some early-voting sites will only be open for voters and not for people doing other business.

- Why aren't there more early-voting sites?

State law says early voting can only be provided at government buildings, such as libraries, city halls or the elections supervisor's offices.

Election Day

-- On Election Day, where should I vote?

At your assigned precinct, which is listed on your voter registration card. Or you can call the elections supervisor's office or visit their website. In Miami-Dade, call 311 or click here. In Broward, call 954-357-7050 or click here (and then on "Precinct Finder").

- What if a poll worker says I can't vote but I think I can?

You can cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are given to voters whose eligibility cannot be determined. You will have two business days after the election to submit proof that you were eligible to vote. You can also check the status of your provisional ballot online here for Miami-Dade and here for Broward.

- If I changed my address and didn't notify the elections department, can I still vote?

Call before Election Day to update your address to avoid delays.

If you are registered to vote elsewhere in the same county, you should go to the polling place for your new address. Let the precinct clerk know about your change of address. The clerk will complete a form and verify that you are registered. Then, you can vote.

- If you are registered to vote elsewhere in Florida, you should also go to the polling place for your new address and file a change of address, but you will be asked to vote using a provisional ballot.

- Can someone go to the voting booth with me if I need help?

Yes, but ask a poll worker first because you and your assistant will each need to fill out a form. You can also ask poll workers for help.

- What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

Return the page to a poll worker and request a new page.

- Do I need to scan both sides of each page on the ballot?

No.

- Can I wear a campaign T-shirt to vote?

Voters wearing campaign gear may enter a polling place to vote, but they are asked not to speak about candidates or issues or solicit other voters while they are inside the polling place.

- What if I'm still in line when the polls close?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

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