ORLANDO, Fla. — Are you registered to vote in Florida? Have you checked the status of that voter registration lately?
February 18 was the deadline to register for the Florida presidential preference primary in March. Making sure your voter registration is up to date will save you headaches at the polling place on Election Day.
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Why should I check my voting status?
In 2016, Florida residents wanting to vote in the presidential preference primary were shocked to discover they were no longer registered with a political party. They discovered it the day they went to vote.
Some pointed to confusion with the Florida motor voter system, which allows you to update your voter registration when you renew your driver's license.
Just to be sure, Orange County began handing out paper receipts that verify voter registration information.
Mistakes can happen, and that's why it's good to periodically make sure your voter registration is in good order.
How can I update my voter registration, or check its status?
In 2017, Florida launched a new site, RegistertoVoteFlorida.gov, which allows Floridians to register or update their registration online. You can also check to make sure you are already registered, and update anything you need to update.
There is also the Voter Information Lookup Tool on the Florida Division of Elections website.
You can also go to your county's supervisor of elections office and look up your voter registration there. Your county can help you register to vote or update your registration as well.
What information should I check on my voter registration?
- Have you changed your name for whatever reason? You should make sure your name is the same as it is on your driver's license.
- Have you changed your address? Your address is important to make sure you go to the right precinct.
- Is your political party listed correctly? If you want to vote in a particular political primary election next month, you must be registered with the right party by February 18. This is not important for the general election in November.
Also, if you vote by mail, you need to make sure your current signature matches the signature your county elections office has on file. Your signature can change over the years for any number of reasons (i.e. illness or injury). If you think your signature has changed, check with your county elections office.
Will failing to check this information stop me from voting or prevent my vote from counting?
It depends. If you are at a polling place and your name isn't correct or the address isn't correct, you will be sent to someone to determine your eligibility and update your information so you can vote. If your eligibility cannot be determined, you will be given a provisional ballot to fill out. Then the local canvassing board will research your eligibility so that your vote can be counted.
If you know you are a registered member of a political party, and there is a problem when you get to your polling place on Election Day, you will be sent to someone to determine what happened. You may be asked to fill out a provisional ballot if your affiliation cannot be determined at that time.
If you are voting by mail-in ballot, and your signatures do not match, it may affect whether your vote is counted. Therefore it's important to check your signature at the county elections office before you mail in your ballot.
Can I change my political party affiliation?
For a general election in November, it's not necessary to change your party affiliation to vote in any race.
In the case of a primary, now is the time to change it if you want to vote in a party primary.
Florida is a closed primary state, which means if you want to vote in a party's primary election, you must be a registered member of the party, 29 days before the primary election.
Otherwise you will not be able to vote in those primaries.
It also should be noted that even if you cannot vote in a political party primary, there are still several important, nonpartisan local elections happening in the March election. Sample ballots are being mailed out in each county to voters in the next few weeks, and you should check that to find out what nonpartisan elections will be held.
Again, changing your party affiliation has no bearing on what elections you can vote in for the November General Elections.