How to Vote

How to Vote At Your Polling Place

Voting is not complicated; it is a simple process. We are providing you with a review of what will happen at your polling place on election day.

Outside your polling place

A “poll deputy” will be stationed on the outside of the polling place for the purpose of maintaining good order at the polls. The poll deputy is responsible for ensuring that no solicitation occurs within a 150 foot radius of the polling place and to assist voters in knowing where the polling place is located.

If you need help at your polling place

If you will need assistance with voting at your polling place because of a temporary or permanent disability, you may take a person of your choice or you may ask for the assistance of the poll workers.

Inside the polling place

Step 1 – Identifying Yourself

When you enter the polling place, you will report to the table where “inspectors” will have PRECINCT REGISTERS/POLL LISTS. These books contain the names and addresses of every registered voter in your precinct. The inspector will ask for your name and will request that you provide a form of identification which contains your signature and photo. Once your name is located in the precinct register, you will be requested to provide your current residence address.

Step 2 – Signing for your ballot

If there are no discrepancies in step one, you will be requested to sign your name on the signature line in the precinct register. The inspector will compare your signature in the precinct register with the signature on the identification which you provided. If the signatures compare, the inspector will record the number of the ballot you are to receive next to your signature in the precinct register. PLEASE NOTE! The ballot number does not appear on your ballot.

Step 3 – Receiving your ballot

If there are no discrepancies in steps one and two, the inspector will issue the appropriate ballot to you. Although we strive for accuracy when issuing your ballot, mistakes can happen. IMPORTANT! In primary elections, you are issued a ballot based upon your party affiliation. If you believe that you have not been given the correct ballot, PLEASE INQUIRE. If an error has been made, it can be easily corrected at this time. If, however, you have voted and placed a ballot which was incorrectly issued to you in the voting tabulating equipment, no adjustments can be made.

What is on your ballot

Your ballot will contain all the races and issues which you are allowed to vote on. In some instances, races and issues will appear on both sides of the ballot. You are not required to vote in every race; you may choose to vote in only one race or a selection of races as you wish.

Step 4- Voting your ballot

Now that you have received your ballot along with a secrecy folder, you will be directed to one of the voting booths that will allow you privacy in voting. You will see there are ovals printed to the left side of each candidate’s name or next to the responses for any issue which may appear on your ballot. To vote for your choice, completely fill in the oval with the marking pen which has been placed in the voting booth. If you make a mistake, you can request another ballot; however, you will be required to surrender the ballot on which you made the mistake. Do not hesitate to ask for a replacement ballot because you are permitted to obtain up to two additional ballots (a total of three). Once you have finished voting, you must leave the polling place.

Step 5 – Deposit your ballot in the voting tabulating equipment

Now that you have exercised your inherent right to vote a secret ballot you may place your ballot in the secrecy folder provided and proceed to the inspector who is stationed at the voting tabulating equipment. You may have your ballot completely hidden in the secrecy folder. If so, the inspector will request that you place your ballot in the secrecy folder with about two inches of the top of the ballot being exposed. The inspector will then instruct you to lay the secrecy folder (with the voted ballot inside the secrecy folder) flat on the voting tabulating equipment and slide it forward toward the ballot entry slot. The voting tabulating equipment will pull the ballot from the secrecy folder.

DeSoto County’s voting tabulating equipment

Our equipment is programmed to reject blank ballots and over voted (when more than one candidate is voted for in the same race) ballots. If this occurs, the voting tabulating equipment will reject the ballot and an error message will be displayed. The inspector will read the error message and you will be given the opportunity to correctly mark your ballot or to request another ballot.

Step 6 – Departing the polling place

Once your ballot has been accepted by the voting tabulating equipment, you may leave the polling place. In fact; state law mandates that you do so.

Possible Problems

Problems which could occur at your polling place:

If you have moved from the address which appears in the precinct register, you will be required to complete a “Change of Address Affirmation.” The inspector will help you to determine if your new address is still within the boundaries of your precinct. If not, you will be provided with the “Change of Address Affirmation” for delivery to your new polling place location. Upon arrival at your new polling place, you must submit this document and you will be allowed to vote. This situation can be avoided by providing our office with your current address. REMEMBER! If you vote in a precinct in which you do not live on election day, you are committing a FELONY.

If your name does not appear in the precinct register at the precinct in which you think you are supposed to vote, the inspector will call our office to obtain a status report on your registration. There may be any number of reasons why this might occur. Depending upon the outcome, you may be permitted to vote in the precinct, you may be directed to another precinct or you may be notified that you are not eligible to vote for some reason. Again, keeping your registration updated can help to avoid this situation.

If you are unable to provide a form of identification which contains your signature, you will be issued a provisional ballot.

If your signature in the precinct register differs from the signature on the identification which you provided, you will be required to complete a “Voter Whose Signature Is Different Affirmation.”

If your name has changed due to marriage or some other legal process, you will be required to complete a “Change of Name Affirmation.” It is to your advantage to notify our office of your change in name prior to election day.

Sample ballot

The sample ballot will be advertised in the newspaper on Sunday prior to election day. In addition, the sample ballot should be available on our website no later than two weeks prior to election day. To expedite the voting process, you are encouraged to study, mark your choices and use the sample ballot at your polling place location. This is an acceptable practice as long as you do not display your marked sample ballot to other voters.

Petition gatherers

If you are approached and requested to sign a petition of any kind at your polling place location, you may do so or you may decline to do so.


If you have requested and received a vote-by-mail ballot for a specific election but have decided that you would rather vote at your polling place location, you may do so. You should take your vote-by-mail ballot to your polling place. You will surrender your vote-by-mail ballot, qualify as any other voter would and you will be permitted to vote.

201 E. Oak Street, Suite 104, Arcadia, FL 34266  •  Phone: (863) 993-4871  •  •  Hours: M-F, 8:30am-4:30pm