In the 2020 general election, more than 4.8 million Floridians voted by mail. That was 2 million more than the number of people who voted by mail in 2018 and in 2016.

Voting by mail is smartest way we have to vote in Florida. Most voters do not work a traditional 40-hour work week and don’t have the option to take time out on Election Tuesday to go to the polls. During the pandemic, voters learned the convenience of having that ballot mailed to them, filling it out in the privacy of their home, and returning it.

With a primary coming up on Aug. 23 and a general election on Nov. 8, here is what you need to know if you want to vote by mail in 2022.

How do I request a vote-by-mail ballot?

  • The easiest way to request a vote by mail ballot is to call the Supervisor of Elections office at 305-292 3416.
  • Make the request in-person at one of the 3 offices in the Florida Keys. Click here for office locations.
  • Send your signed request to the Supervisor’s office by mail, fax or e-mail. For an e-mail, you must scan a signed letter and send it in as an attachment.
  • Print a request form here.

All requests must have this information:

  • Voter’s full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • The voter’s Florida driver’s license number, identification card number, or last four digits of their social security number.  This is a new change by the Florida Legislature and those identification numbers are required to be on file with the county supervisor of elections office in order to get your VBM ballot request approved.

Do I have to request a ballot for every election?

In Florida, one vote-by-mail ballot request lasts for all elections in a calendar year. So if you make a ballot request for the August 23 primary, you won’t have to make one for the November 8 general election.

Prior to 2021, a vote by mail ballot request would last for two federal election cycles. The Florida Legislature made this change in 2021 and if you previously voted mail, you need to make note of this change and remember to request a new vote-by-mail ballot in 2023 for the next election cycle.

How Do I Check My Voter Registration and Vote-By-Mail status?

If you are not sure if you need to make a new request for a vote by mail ballot, you can check your voter registration information and your vote-by mail request status online here or in-person at one of 3 Keys Supervisor of Elections Locations:

Main Office:530 Whitehead St #101
Key West, Florida 33040-6577
(305) 292-3416
Marathon Branch:1001th Street Center
10015 Overseas Hwy
Marathon, Florida 33050
(305) 289-6017
Key Largo Branch:Murray Nelson Center
102050 Overseas Hwy #137
Key Largo, FL 33037-2785
(305) 453-8740

Can someone request a ballot for me?

Yes. An immediate family member or a legal guardian can request a ballot on a voter’s behalf.

The person requesting the ballot must include their address, driver’s license number, ID card or last four digits of their social security number, and their relationship to the voter, in addition to the voter’s information. If the request is being mailed in, the requestor must provide a signature as well.

What is the deadline for a Vote-By-Mail ballot request?

VBM ballot requests must be submitted 10 days before an election — Aug. 13 for the Florida primary this year, and Oct. 29 for the general election.

The elections supervisor then has two days to get the ballot out to you.

After that deadline, you can always go to the supervisor of elections office in your county, make that request in person and pick up your ballot.

What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

If you make a mistake on your ballot, contact your county supervisor of elections office and they will send you a new ballot. You can’t fix a mistake on your ballot after you send it in, so be sure you are certain about your responses before you send return your ballot.

What is the deadline to turn in a vote by mail ballot?

All VBM ballots must be turned into your county supervisor of elections office by 7 p.m. on election day. Ballots that are postmarked on election day but not returned until after election day will not be accepted.

How do I turn in a vote by mail ballot?

There are three ways to turn in a ballot:

  1. Mail it through a shipping service like the U.S. Postal Service. If you plan to mail it back to the supervisor’s office, it is best to get the ballot mailed as soon as possible. It is recommended that you put your ballot in the mail at least 10 days before election day to make sure your ballot will arrive on time. After that it is best to use one of the other two options.
  2. Take your ballot directly to an election office.
  3. Drop your ballot in a secure drop box during early voting.

If you are going to be out of state when you need to turn in your ballot, you should consider using UPS or FedEx to send in your ballot to make sure it gets there on time.

Will drop boxes for vote by mail ballots return in 2022?

In the last legislative session, the Florida Legislature replaced drop boxes with “secure ballot intake” boxes. These boxes will be available in counties during the early voting period. The boxes must be staffed.

The “Secure Ballot Intake Boxes” will be available at early voting locations during operating hours.

Why do I need to sign the return envelope for my ballot?

A signature is required on the return envelope to verify who is mailing in the ballot. The signature is matched up with the one the county supervisor of elections has in your record.

What if my signature doesn’t match the one on file?

For a variety of reasons, such as age, health issues and style, voters signatures can change over time. The trained elections staff checks every signature against the voter’s record, and if there is a discrepancy, the voter will receive a “cure affidavit.” This gives voters a chance to cure their ballot, up to two days after the election.

If there is a problem with a ballot or signature, the supervisor of elections staff  will try to contact the voter any way they can, so it is prudent to make sure your up-to-date contact information is on file with the county election’s office. This is also a good reason to get your ballot returned sooner rather than later.

You can also always update the signature on file with the county elections office in person.

Can someone return my vote by mail ballot for me?

A voter can turn in ballots of family members and up to two ballots by people who are not family members.

How can I track my ballot and make sure it was received?

You can go to Monroe County Supervisor of Elections website (https://www.keys-elections.org/Voters/My-Vote-by-Mail-Status) to see the status of your mail in ballot, whether it has been returned, whether it’s been accepted, and whether there is something you have to fix.

By Laurie Swanson, Chair, Mid-Keys Democrats
mid-keys@keysdems.com

This gentleman voted for Biden and 10 Democrats on Friday because we had a sign rally on Thursday. While my fellow Marathon Democrats were basking in the honks, toots and beeps of the energized traffic on Overseas Highway, I was helping him find his license. He had stopped to ask if he could vote with a voter’s registration and license that said he lived in Naples, Florida. I told him that I thought we could make it happen, and we did.

Now I am no stranger to accents, having lived in the Middle East for nearly 30 years, but his Haitian Creole almost outdid my comprehension. This morning we met at the DMV (which has moved) to pursue changes to his address on his driver’s license. About three hours later, after many trips to his aged beige Toyota Camry where he carries his whole life in little pieces of paper stuffed into every nook and cranny, we emerged with a new, updated, and renewed license in hand.

Off to 100th Street and the Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) to finish off the voter registration. Although the DMV offered to register him to vote, I thought it wiser to go directly to the SOE office next to the Early Vote location to complete our mission. Kathy worked her magic on the computer and in no time at all my new friend was making his way into the poll room to vote.

While he was voting, I straightened our Democrat signs and retrieved a Biden Harris that had rudely been removed to make way for multiple Trump signs. I re-rooted Biden directly in front of a Trump sign.

I then planted myself on the steps and waited for my friend to emerge from voting. He came down the stairs smiling under his mask and told me that he voted for 10 Democrats and Biden. We got the Deputy to snap our picture. I wished him luck. We both drove in our separate directions knowing that our lives will probably never intersect again.

The Florida Keys Democrats offer many kinds of assistance to anyone wanting to vote. Please click here for more information.

by Robert Gold, Technology Director, Florida Keys Democrats
data@keysdems.com

The volunteers of the Monroe County Democratic Executive Committee (Keys Democrats) have been working tirelessly all year in support of the best possible outcome on November 3rd. Our leaders are recruiting and managing volunteers, raising money, assisting candidates, and firing up our voters on a daily basis. My job is about information.

In one of my many jobs as Technology Director, I receive and evaluate masses of new data each day that enable us to make strategic decisions on the basis of facts instead of speculation. From the data we receive (which we’re entitled to by law), we know how many votes have been cast, and by whom. And since we know the party of registration (or no party, as the case may be) for each voter, we consider those data on the basis of the premise that the registered Democrats who have voted have voted for Biden, and that the registered Republicans who have voted have voted for Trump. But of course, that premise is false.

What is true is that not all Democrats who have voted did so for Biden, and not all Republicans who have voted did so for Trump. Another false premise is that those registered with no party affiliation (NPAs) are undecided or unsure. Almost all NPAs who vote will vote for either Biden or Trump. But we have scant basis for predicting the rate of party defections or NPA support for either candidate. 

Democrats are at a disadvantage in Monroe because there are over 4,600 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Mitigating that (for now) is the fact that turnout among registered Democrats stands today (as of October 23rd) at 55%, compared with 43% for Republicans, and only 31% for among the NPA+ segment. That turnout edge will diminish as we approach Election Day, and may even be entirely erased.

Florida is among the closest tipping point states, and if Trump loses Florida, he has almost no chance to retain the White House. Although it would be satisfying and dramatic for Joe Biden to win an outright majority in Monroe County, the outcome in Monroe is mostly symbolic. What really matters for us is our effect on the state-wide tally. And while we’re a small county in a big state, the painful memory of Bush v. Gore in 2000 reminds us that every single Florida vote matters, a lot. Especially yours.   

In 2008, Obama garnered 51.65% of Monroe votes cast, compared with 46.79% for McCain. In 2012, Obama got 49.54% of votes in Monroe, compared with 49.13% for Romney (only a 158 vote difference, a statistical tie). And in 2016, Trump got 50.97% vs. 44.14% for Clinton. The only thing really certain about Monroe outcomes is that the past is not useful in predicting the present. 

High turnout this year is being driven in both directions by Trump. Passionate support and passionate contempt for the President is bringing folks out to vote at a prospectively record-setting rate. The surge that we’re seeing in Monroe early voting by Republicans is unsurprising, considering voting patterns in the August primary. Our edge in vote by mail (VBM) ballot returns and the offsetting Republican edge in early voting are timing issues only; votes count exactly the same regardless of whether cast by mail, early, or on election day.

The final tallies in Monroe will boil down to three unpredictable factors: The rate at which registered Republicans who vote aren’t voting for Trump, the rates at which NPAs turn out to vote and favor Biden, and the rates at which Biden and Trump voters turn out on election day. 

We’ve already surpassed 70% of Democratic VBM ballots returned. We’ve made tens of thousands of carefully targeted phone calls to encourage voting by mail, returning vote by mail ballots, increased turnout among NPAs, and even to promote GOP defections. We’ve mailed over ten thousand hand-addressed postcards and letters. We’re following up with voters whose VBM ballots were delayed, unsigned, or undelivered, we’re helping voters deliver their VBM ballots, and we’re driving voters to early and Election Day voting. We’ve sent tens of thousands of texts, garnered tens of thousands of clicks on our paid advertising in social media and on high-traffic web sites, maintained our robust and content-rich Facebook page and web site, and raised the large sums of money needed to pay for all these efforts. We have the largest force of volunteers in Monroe since 2008, and by far, the best organized volunteer force here ever.

While we don’t know with certainty what Monroe’s outcomes will be on November 3rd, we are certain of this: we are doing the very best we can. And for that we are both proud and grateful. 

by Phil Dodderidge, Vice-Chair Florida Keys Democrats

 The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration released an analysis of Republican’s planned cuts to Social Security funding. Under their plan, Social Security would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023. Don’t let that happen. Democrats will protect your Social Security.

The Facts

  • The president signed an executive order that suspends the payment of payroll taxes which fund Social Security until the end of the year.

The executive order  halts collection of the 6.2 percent payroll tax imposed on wages for Social Security, starting Sept. 1. After signing the executive order, Trump said several times that he wanted to permanently end payroll taxes.

Aug. 8: “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to…make permanent cuts to the payroll tax. So, I’m going to make them all permanent.”

Aug. 11: “Payroll tax holiday, that’s a big, and what we’re doing is sometime after the election, if we win, we’re going to make that permanent, the payroll tax holiday. The payroll tax will be rescinded.”

Aug. 12: “On the payroll tax, we’ll be terminating the payroll tax. After I hopefully get elected, we’ll be terminating the payroll tax.”

  • On Aug. 19, four senators wrote to the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, Stephen Goss, asking for “your analysis of hypothetical legislation” that would mandate “zero percent” payroll taxes.  Specifically, they wanted to know how soon the Social Security Trust Funds would be depleted if they suddenly stopped receiving any money.
  • On Aug. 24, the Social Security Chief Actuary letter to Senators Van Hollen, Sanders, Wyden, and Schumer concludes:

“We estimate that OASI (Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance) Trust Fund reserves would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay OASI benefits thereafter.”

Discussion

The GOP plan to eliminate payroll taxes that fund Social Security to put more money into the pockets of working Americans may sound like a good idea, in theory. However, in reality, it is a horrible proposal for seniors because these taxes, split between employers and employees, fund Social Security and Medicare.

Employers withhold 6.2 percent of earnings of American workers and contribute another 6.2 percent of an employee’s wages to fund Social Security. “Trump’s payroll tax cut plan not only fails to help Americans struggling to get by right now, it would also completely decimate Social Security for the millions of Americans who rely on it,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland and one of the senators who sent the questions to Goss.

The August 2020 GOP and Trump plan to defund Social Security provides proof that Republicans have lied (again) to the American people in their promise(s) to protect Social Security and Medicare.

  • Despite Trump’s State of the Union pledge—“We will always protect your Medi and Medicare/Medicaid, and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.”—it was less than a week before he unveiled a budget proposal that included cuts to Medicare. The previous year’s budget plan, included cuts to both Medicare, Social Security and other programs seniors rely on. When it comes to supporting seniors, Trump and the GOP have a long history of saying one thing and doing the opposite.
  • Trump, who in 2016 vowed he would never cut entitlements, and supported by the GOP, is arguing in the Supreme Court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and the protections for people with pre-existing conditions that come with it. It should be noted that should this happen, 8,300,000 Americans who contracted COVID19 would suddenly have a pre-existing condition and be ineligible for health insurance.

Republicans have a long history of proposing reforms to reduce benefit increases for future retirees. Here, however, Trump and the GOP are threatening to pull the plug on current retirees, with no alternative funding mechanism (sort of like his effort to destroy Obamacare with no substitute).  Trump and his GOP enablers are proving, once again, they are not our seniors’ friends.

Conclusion

If the Democrats win the Presidency, Senate, and continue their majority in the House, such a proposal has ZERO chance of making it through Congress.  The safety of Medicare, Social Security, and our seniors is at stake in this election.