Nearly a third of Floridians cast their ballot early – before Election Day, at an early voting location rather than their assigned precinct voting site. Access to early voting varies dramatically by county.

Supervisors of Election also get to choose how many early voting locations will be offered and where they will be in the county.

Each supervisor of election decides what early voting will look like in their county. Florida law requires a minimum of 8 hours a day for 8 days, but county Supervisors of Elections can offer it for up to 14 days and some offer up to 12 hours per day. Longer hours and more days give voters more opportunities to cast their ballot while juggling their other responsibilities.  

Supervisors of Election also get to choose how many early voting locations will be offered and where they will be in the county. There are state limits here too: they have to have at least as many locations as there were in the 2012 General Election, early voting has to be offered at their office, and they have to use one of a list of specified location types, mostly public buildings. They each get one ‘wildcard’ location as well, in case a public building is not available. A restricted number of locations can lead to longer waits and travel times. Fewer locations also make choosing locations that are equally accessible by all of the county’s voters more important – and more difficult.

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    1. Recommendations

    Q.Recommendations
    A.
    • Make early voting available for the entire period allowed by Florida law at as many locations as can be staffed to reduce the potential for crowds. Early voting should be available at enough locations, for long enough, that the county has no more than 300 voters per hour of early voting.
    • Ensure SOE staff is accessible to voters on the weekends during early voting period, either in the office or by phone.

    • Offer enough early voting locations to prevent long wait times and offer non-business hours.
    • Ensure early voting locations are accessible to all.
      • Black voters are most likely to vote early (45% did so in the 2018 General Election), as are voters between 45 and 64 years old (36% in 2018 General). Neighborhoods and business districts reflecting these demographics should have early voting sites to ensure access. 
      • Use college campuses are early voting sites to promote youth participation.
    • Prioritize keeping early voting open through the Sunday before the election.
    • Ensure SOE staff is accessible to voters on the weekends during early voting period, either in the office or by phone.

    2. Lessons from the 2018 General Election

    Q.Lessons from the 2018 General Election
    A.
    • Nearly a third of Floridians cast their ballot early. This is higher than the national average of 22%.
    • There were 367 early voting locations for the 2018 General Election. Early voting was available for a total 44,560 hours in the state - an hour for every 298 registered voters.
    • Across counties, as the number of registered voters per hour of early voting access increased, the percent of ballots cast early decreased.
    • Black voters are most likely to vote early - 45% of Black voters cast their ballots early, compared to 31% of white voters and 32% of Hispanic voters.

    3. Resources