While we come from different parties and may have different viewpoints, we also have much in common. We both served two terms as governor of this great state of Florida; we both ran for president ourselves; we both call Miami home; and we both understand just how important Florida is in selecting the next president.
In many ways, we are a microcosm of America: a state whose residents come from all corners of our country, as well as from all around the globe. Every four years, Florida plays a vital role in charting the direction of our nation. In 20 of the last 22 presidential elections, the winner has carried Florida. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is the largest — and in recent history, the most competitive of all the battleground states.
This year will be no different, and the winner, whether it be President Trump or former Vice President Biden, is likely to carry the Sunshine State.
As Floridians, we have an important job ahead of us.
This year, more misinformation than ever before is being shared about the voting process, ballot security, accuracy of the count and the confidence we can all have in results. This is why we have come together to share our thoughts — yes, as a Republican and a Democrat, but, more important, as Floridians who care deeply about this state.
First, Floridians should cast a ballot with the knowledge that it will be counted and that every legal vote will be tallied. There have been many changes made to our process during the past 20 years, changes that have led to a voting system that is efficient, secure and professional.
Laws are specific to the time in which ballots are counted, how results are released — and even how voters can correct problems, such as a mismatched signature on a vote-by-mail ballot.
Second, unlike many other states, Florida’s ballots are counted quickly — and we will know virtually all of the state’s results on Election Night. When you return a vote-by-mail ballot, or vote in person at an early-voting site, the process of tabulating those ballots happens in real time, allowing counties to quickly compile results on Election Night.
Third, voting in Florida is very easy and accessible. There are many options for convenience — voting from home, voting in-person early, which in many counties opens 15 days before Election Day, or voting in your precinct on Election Day, Nov. 3. As a Floridian, your responsibilities are pretty simple: Bring an ID to the polls if you vote in person, study up on the entire ballot — including the local and state amendments. If you vote by mail, make sure you sign the back of the ballot envelope, and if you mail it in, keep in mind your ballot has to be in your local election’s office by 7 p.m. Nov. 3 — so mail it back early. You can also drop off your ballot at your local elections office, or at drop boxes in your community.
Next, know your rights. If you forget your ID on Election Day, you can still vote using a provisional ballot — and the local canvassing board can determine your eligibility by matching your signature. Also, you can track your vote-by-mail ballot at the website of your local supervisor of elections, and if there is a signature issue, you are allowed to go to your local office and provide identification to remedy the problem so that your vote will count.
And finally, know that if we do end up in a statewide recount, just like we did three times in 2018, the laws are very specific about what triggers a recount, and what the deadlines are for recounting ballots.
In many ways, Florida is a model for administering elections. We have confidence in our process, and you should as well. As citizens, all of us now have the most important job — the job of voter. Florida has earned the reputation of being an election decider, so take this responsibility seriously, study up and go vote. On Election Night, the nation literally will be turning to us.
Bob Graham was Florida’s 38th governor from 1979 to 1987 and a U.S. senator from 1987 to 2005. Jeb Bush was Florida’s 43rd governor from 1999 to 2007.