Absentee ballots
Voting when being there isn't an option

If you’re on the road you may vote by absentee ballot, or, depending on the state where you live, you also may vote prior to Election Day.

Across the county, some general rules apply when filing absentee ballots.

For example, you must be registered to vote; you must send in a request to the appropriate election official; the request must be mailed at a specific time; and a ballot will be mailed up to 30 days before each election — and it should be returned by a specific day or it will not count.

According to the Federal Election Commission, absentee ballots, depending on the state, can be requested by contacting a county clerk, county auditor, county registrar or supervisor of elections, or the board of elections.

In most cases, the phone numbers are listed in the blue government pages of the phone book.

Or, there’s always the Internet. To find out what procedures apply for voting in national and primary elections in your state, go to Specific information including voting dates for national and local elections is generally available for each state.

We picked Florida from the Web site, where there are more than 4,000 OOIDA members, and where procedures pretty much match up with those of other states.

Qualified voters are permitted to cast an absentee ballot under Florida law if they:

•Are unable to go to the polls on Election Day.
•Have not voted and will not vote more than one ballot in this election.

How To Vote Absentee
A voter, or someone designated by the voter, may request an absentee ballot from the supervisor of elections in person, by mail or by telephone. One request can cover all elections within a calendar year.

The person requesting an absentee ballot must disclose:

  • The name of the voter for whom the ballot is requested;
  • The voter’s address;
  • The last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number;
  • The registration number on the voter’s identification card;
  • The requester’s name;
  • The requester’s address;
  • The requester’s Social Security number and, if available, driver’s license number;
  • The requester’s relationship to the voter; and,
  • The requester’s signature (written request only).

Marked ballots must be mailed or delivered in person, reaching the supervisor of elections’ office not later than 7 p.m. on the day of the election. Designees may pick up no more than two absentee ballots per election and must have written authorization by the elector, present a picture I.D. and sign an affidavit.

Candidates may pick up absentee ballots only for members of their immediate family. If you have obtained an absentee ballot but are able to vote in your precinct on Election Day, you must take the ballot with you to the polls, whether or not it has been marked. However, if you are unable to return the ballot, you may execute an affidavit stating that the absentee ballot has not been voted and then vote at your precinct.

Voting while overseas
Meanwhile, members of the armed forces stationed overseas can vote by absentee ballot.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program in the Office of the Secretary of Defense is responsible for administering the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

This law provides that members of the U.S. uniformed services and merchant marine and their family members may vote absentee while away from their place of voting residence, wherever stationed, within or outside the United States.

For detailed information on registering and obtaining an absentee ballot, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site at, or call 1-800-438-VOTE (1-800-438-8683). The Voting Assistance Program also serves non-military U.S. citizens residing abroad.

—by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at