Stop us if you’ve heard this one: If you don't vote in each election, you lose your ability to vote.
Or: If you leave a race blank on your ballot, your whole ballot won't count. Or the election office will mark it for you.
Every election, myths and half-truths about voting pop up like an improperly-popped chad. Some myths stem from the fact that election rules are different across the country. What is legal in one state may not be in another.
But some are downright malicious, meant to stop people from voting.
So here are some of the top Florida voting myths, gathered from elections supervisors and questions we've gotten from viewers in the past.
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MYTH 1: Mail-in ballots don’t get counted unless the race results are close.
THE TRUTH: Not only are mail-in ballots always counted, on Election Night, they and early voting ballots are usually the first results we see from the counties.
MYTH 2: Provisional ballots don’t get counted unless there is a tie, or at all.
THE TRUTH: Provisional ballots are given to voters only if additional confirmation of voter eligibility is needed. Provisional ballots are then approved by a local canvassing board. But they are counted after they are approved.
MYTH 3: The position of the candidates on the ballot shows favoritism.
THE TRUTH: Donald Trump was the name at the top of the ballot for the 2016 presidential race. The reason? Florida Gov. Rick Scott is a Republican. Florida law says the political party that wins the last gubernatorial election determines the order of candidates on the ballot. The next major party candidate will follow, then minor-party candidates, then "no party affiliation" candidates.
MYTH 4: Write in whoever you want for president, that vote will count.
THE TRUTH: Every election, someone jokingly writes in Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck or Darth Vader for president. Although canvassing boards will count up those results, they won’t count them as legit. That’s because write-in candidates must register in Florida in order to be considered an official write-in candidate.
MYTH 5: If you voted early or by mail (previously called absentee) and want to change your vote, you can.
THE TRUTH: Some states will allow you to change your ballot. Florida will not. If you make a mistake on your ballot BEFORE you have turned it in, Florida will give you up to two more ballots so you can vote the way you want to. But after you have cast a vote, you can't change it.
Polling place myths
MYTH 6: If you don’t receive your ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day, you won’t be allowed to vote.
THE TRUTH: As long as you are standing in line at a polling place by 7 p.m. on Election Day, you will be allowed to vote. So if you get in line at 6:55 p.m., as long as you are in line, you will be allowed to vote.
MYTH 7: If you wear partisan or campaign attire to your polling place, you won’t be allowed to vote.
THE TRUTH: The law in Florida requires that people do not actively campaign within 150 feet of a polling place. However, as long as you are not actively campaigning, feel free to wear your “Make America Great Again” hat or “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” shirt when you vote, as allowed by Florida law. There is a new law in place that forbits "engaging in any activity with the intent to influence or effect of influencing a voter," but there is currently not a description of what kinds of activities are banned under the law as it is currently written.
HALF-TRUTH 8: Pictures are allowed at the polling place.
THE TRUTH: A change in Florida law now allows voters to take pictures of their ballots in a polling place. You can only take a picture of the ballot itself, you can't take a selfie with your ballot, and you can't take other pics of the inside of the polling place.
MYTH 9: Children are not allowed in the voting room when you vote.
THE TRUTH: Children are not eligible to vote, but government officials strongly encourage citizens to take their children to the polls. It helps to show the importance of voting.
MYTH 10: You can’t use anything to help you vote at the voting booth.
THE TRUTH: Each county sends voters a sample ballot showing them all the races they will vote on. This way, you can choose your candidates before you get to the polls. But you can also bring voting guides, cell phones and other items to help you vote.
Voter ID myths
MYTH 11: You can’t vote if the address on your driver's license doesn’t match the address on your voter registration record.
THE TRUTH: First, your driver's license is not the only form of ID you can bring with you to the polls to prove where you live. But the reason to have an ID is to confirm your identity, not your address. The poll workers at the polling place will be able to verify if you are at the polling place associated with your current address, once your identity is confirmed.
MYTH 12: You must have your voter ID card to vote.
THE TRUTH: Your voter information card is NOT an ID card. And it is not required to vote at your polling place. It also cannot be used as sole identification.
MYTH 13: You can vote with an out-of-state driver's license.
THE TRUTH: If you are voting in Florida, you must be registered to vote in Florida. Even though the license is only used to confirm your identity, Florida law requires voters to use a Florida license. If you don’t have one, you can still vote with a provisional ballot. The canvassing board will count the vote once your identity as a Florida resident is verified.
'How to vote' myths
MYTH 14: You can cast a vote via the telephone or online.
THE TRUTH: In Florida, the only ways to cast a ballot are via mail-in ballot, which you must request from your county elections office; in person via early voting; or in person on Election Day at your assigned polling place. If anyone tells you something different, it’s fraud. You cannot call in a vote, text a vote, email a vote or go to a website to cast a vote.
MYTH 15: If you are registered to a party, you can only vote for candidates in that party.
THE TRUTH: If you are voting in a party primary, you can only vote in a primary that corresponds to your party affiliation. You can vote for whoever you want in a nonpartisan election. Also, in the November general election, you can vote for anyone on the ballot, regardless of political party.
MYTH 16: You must speak English in order to vote in elections.
THE TRUTH: You must be an American citizen, but that doesn't mean you need to speak English to vote. The county Supervisor of Elections offices provide ballots in several languages. Check with your county to see what languages they provide ballots for.
MYTH 17: If you don’t vote in a race, your ballot won’t count.
THE TRUTH: If you get a ballot and leave a race blank, that is called an undervote. It will not count toward the result, and it won’t void your entire ballot. Your votes in every other race will count.
'Who can vote?' myths
HALF-TRUTH 18: If you don’t vote every 2 years, you lose your eligibility to vote.
THE TRUTH: In Florida, you don't lose your voter eligibility after two years if you don't vote. However, election officials need to make sure their voting rolls are up to date. If you do not vote, and have not had contact with the county elections office for a two-year period, election officials will send you a notice to confirm your address. If you do not contact the elections office, or the notice is returned as “undeliverable,” your registration is put down as inactive. But all a voter has to do is go to their polling place on Election Day and confirm their address, or contact their county elections office, and they will be able to vote. If you are marked as an inactive voter and then don’t vote in the next two general elections (a four-year period), your registration is canceled. Then you have to reregister.
MYTH 19: If you voted in the primary, you can’t vote in the general election.
THE TRUTH: Primary elections are primary elections. You are deciding whether a candidate should be the party’s nominee for that position. General elections are different elections, and you are deciding whether the nominee is qualified to win that position. If you vote in the primary in March or August, you can vote in November. ANY eligible Florida voter can vote in November.
HALF-TRUTH 20: Convicted felons can vote.
THE TRUTH: In 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which automatically restores voting rights to nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. You will also need to make sure that any fines, fees, or restitution payments are paid in full. Florida lawmakers passed a law requiring that provision in 2019. But since then a judge struck down the law, saying it amounted to a poll tax. The state appealed the decision, and it's now a requirement.
MYTH 21: Students who vote in the election could see their college financial aid affected.
THE TRUTH: Voting will not affect any federal financial aid. Some private scholarships based on location may be affected if you change your voter registration. Check with the scholarship administrator ahead of time. The Brennan Center for Justice has a complete Student Voting Guide.
MYTH 22: If you are from Puerto Rico, you can’t vote.
THE TRUTH: People living in Puerto Rico do not vote in federal elections because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. However, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, which means if a Puerto Rican moves to the mainland and establishes permanent residency, they are allowed to vote in federal elections. This is true for other U.S. territories as well.
MYTH 23: Foreigners with legal U.S. residence can vote in elections.
THE TRUTH: Only U.S. citizens (by birth or naturalized) can vote in American federal and state elections. Some local governments may allow non-citizens to vote in local only elections, but that is not yet the case in Florida.
MYTH 24: If you are homeless, or your home is in foreclosure, you can't vote.
THE TRUTH: Just because you are homeless does not mean you cannot vote. If you have an effective mailing address where you can receive messages, and plan to stay in that area, you can be assigned a precinct. Contact your county elections office for help. Likewise, if you are still living in your house, even though it's in foreclosure, you can still vote using that address. If you left that house, you can still vote, you just need to change your address, which you should do as soon as possible, but you can also do on Election Day at your new polling place.
HALF-TRUTH 25: More than a million dead people registered to vote.
THE TRUTH: This has been a major complaint among those who claim the election is rigged. A 2012 Pew Center study found more than 1.8 million dead people were listed as voters. But this has little to do with people registering and voting as dead people and everything to do with the fact that people die. In 2014 alone, 2.6 million people in the U.S. were registered as dead. Those names are not automatically purged from voter rolls. The Pew study found that states had to do a better job of updating information and sharing it. Since then, many states have worked on tightening voter rolls and coordinating on information between governments. But that doesn’t mean that all those dead people will go out and vote. Lots of living people are registered to vote and don’t. Now, there is one caveat: if you vote by mail or early, and THEN you die, your vote will most likely count, unless a gung-ho elections supervisor is willing to go diving into the ballots to find yours.