Although the primaries are largely for people who belong to a political party, there are lots of local, nonpartisan races that everyone can vote in -- and some of them may decide who gets to run your commission, your school board, your courts and other local government offices.
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Do you want to vote? We've put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help you get in and out of your polling place without trouble.
How to vote in Florida: Frequently Asked Questions
- Where do I register? ▼
- What's the deadline to register before an election? ▼
- How do I find where I go to vote? ▼
- How do I know who my representatives are? ▼
- I have to change my address. Do I have to do this before Election Day? ▼
- How can I get an absentee ballot and when is it due? ▼
- How does early voting work? ▼
- If I work on Election Day and want to vote, does my boss have to give me time off? ▼
- I am not affiliated with a political party. So I register independent in Florida, right? ▼
- When is Election Day? ▼
- Why are cities able to hold elections on days other than Election Day? ▼
- English is not my primary language. Can I get a ballot in my language? ▼
- What kind of identification do I need to bring? ▼
- What does it mean that Florida is a closed primary state? ▼
- Why are there presidential candidates on my ballot who are not running in the Democratic primary anymore? ▼
- Why is it some incumbent representatives are not listed on my ballot, even though they are up for re-election? ▼
- What are the term limits for state/county/local officials? ▼
- Are all elections partisan elections? ▼
- Why do some races require a runoff election? ▼
- Why do some elections require a recount of votes? ▼
- What is a provisional ballot? ▼
- How is the order candidates are listed on the ballot decided? ▼
Where do I register or check my voter registration status?
REGISTER TO VOTE: The Florida Division of Elections has a website where you can register to vote online. It's Register to Vote Florida.gov.
You can also download a Florida voter registration application from your county's supervisor of elections website, print the form out, fill it out, and mail it to the department’s office. Make sure you sign it before you send it.
Also, you can register to vote at the driver license office, public library, center for independent living, WIC and DCF offices.
CHECK MY REGISTRATION STATUS: Head to the Florida Division of Elections website's Voter Information Lookup Tool. It will tell you what your status is and where you are registered to vote.
What’s the deadline to register before an election?
New voters must register to vote 29 days before the election they wish to vote in. These are the deadlines to register to vote in Florida before each major election:
- Presidential Preference Primary: February 18, 2020
- Florida Primary Election: July 20, 2020
- General Election: October 5, 2020
If you don’t know if you are registered to vote, or if your registration is valid, be sure to check with your county’s elections supervisor.
How do I find where I go to vote?
You can find your voting precinct location by going to the supervisor of elections website for your county. Each county has a precinct tracker. To find your county's supervisor of elections office, head to the Florida Division of Elections website.
How do I know who my representatives are?
Once you figure out your precinct, the county will be able to tell you which districts you are in, and who your representatives are.
I have to change my address. Do I have to do this before Election Day?
No, you can change your address even at the polling place on Election Day. However, it’s better that you do it beforehand so you know you are going to the right polling place.
How can I get an absentee ballot and when is it due?
Mail-in ballots (AKA absentee ballots) can be requested up to the week before they are due. The ballot is due at the supervisor of elections office for your county by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can mail it to your supervisor's office, or you can hand deliver it to you supervisor's office.
In some counties, you should be able to drop it off in special drop boxes at any early voting polling place. These boxes will not be available on Election Day.
How does early voting work?
Some elections have an early voting period. Dates and times for early voting can vary from county to county. Each county has designated areas that may be different from your regular precinct. You can also vote at the supervisor of elections office. Check with the supervisor of elections in your county to find out if early voting is available for an upcoming election.
If I work on Election Day and want to vote, does my boss have to give me time off?
Not in Florida. In some states, yes, but not all. Early voting and absentee ballot voting should make it easier for everyone to vote, but if you absolutely can't vote until Election Day, and you will need time from work to do it, you should talk to your boss ahead of time.
I am not affiliated with a political party. So I register independent in Florida, right?
No. In this state there is an Independent Party of Florida. If you do not want to be affiliated with a party, select "no party affiliation."
When is Election Day?
There can be elections all throughout the year. The major elections in 2020 are:
- March 17, 2020: Presidential Preference Primary
- Aug. 18, 2020: Congressional, state primaries and local races
- Nov. 3, 2020: General Election
However, municipal elections can and do happen often throughout the year. These are for positions within city councils, and also sometimes referendums.
Why are cities able to hold elections on days other than Election Day?
Some municipalities have chosen to hold their elections at different times of the year. It is up to each city or town to decide on its own when to hold elections. Those elections are usually set within the municipality's charter. But since these elections are not on a major Election Day, fewer people tend to know about them.
English is not my primary language. Can I get a ballot in my language?
This depends largely on the county and the demographics of the county. Some counties have ballots available upon request in other languages. Many counties have ballots printed in English and Spanish on one ballot. Check with your county before voting.
What kind of identification do I need to bring?
Bring a current and valid form of picture identification, like:
- Florida driver's license
- Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- United States passport
- Military identification
- Student identification
- Retirement center identification
- Neighborhood association identification
- Public assistance identification
If you do not have a proper identification, you can still vote, but you will vote a provisional ballot. If your ID does not have a signature on it, you may be asked to offer additional forms of identification.
What does it mean that Florida is a closed primary state?
In Florida, primary elections are only open to voters who are registered for a corresponding party. For instance, only Republicans can vote in a Republican Senate Primary or Democrats can vote in the Democratic Primary, etc.
So if you are a fan of a certain candidate, but you are not a member of that political party, you need to change your party affiliation in order to vote in that primary. In Florida you are allowed to change your party affiliation up to 29 days before an election — the same deadline for people who need to register to vote.
- Presidential Preference Primary: February 18, 2020
- Florida Primary Election: July 20, 2020
Now, if the only candidates running for an office are those who belong to a certain political party, then the election becomes open to ALL voters, regardless of affiliation. But that means there are NO OTHER candidates running. No Democrats, no "no party affiliation" candidates, not even write-ins.
Why are there presidential candidates on my ballot who are not running in the Democratic primary anymore?
County elections officials have to set ballots far in advance to so they can be sent out to people who are overseas, like members of the military. Those ballots can't be changed once they're set. So candidates who have dropped out of the presidential race will be on the ballot in March.
Why is it some incumbent representatives are not listed on my ballot, even though they are up for re-election?
If there’s no opposition, a candidate can win with their own vote. This is not limited to incumbents either. However, all candidates must still qualify to run.
What are the term limits for state/county/local officials?
This varies depending on the government. Four years is a standard term of office. U.S. House and Florida House representatives must run for re-election every two years. Not every office is term-limited though.
Are all elections partisan elections?
No. Many municipal and county elections are not partisan elections, meaning the candidates are not representing any political party and everyone registered can vote in those elections.
Why do some races require a runoff election?
In some non-partisan political races, the winner is determined by a simple majority: whoever gets the most votes wins. However, in some elections, usually municipal elections, the winning candidate has to get 50 percent of the votes plus 1 to be declared the winner. If they don’t, then the top two vote-getting candidates engage in a runoff.
Why do some elections require a recount of votes?
If the voting percentage between the top two candidates is less than one-half of one percent, a recount is automatically triggered.
What is a provisional ballot?
If there is a question about your voter eligibility, such as not having valid identification, you may be asked to vote with a provisional ballot. This allows you time to either prove your eligibility yourself (up to two days after the election), or allows the local election canvassing board to verify your eligibility.
How is the order candidates are listed on the ballot decided?
The order in which the candidates are listed is chosen according to the party of the person who won the last gubernatorial election. So for instance, in Florida, Gov. DeSantis is a Republican. That means the Republicans will top the presidential ballot come November. The next major party (the Democrats) follow, then all other parties in order of when they qualified, and then the No Party Affiliation candidates.
NOTE: There is currently a lawsuit working its way through the courts to determine if that Florida law is unconstitutional. Until there's an outcome, it's unknown whether this rule will change by the 2020 election.