TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The 2020 election season is in full swing and Florida’s first election night is right around the corner.
Florida’s presidential preference primary is being held on March 17, 2020. Before you cast your vote, there are a few things you should check.
Make sure you’re registered
In order to vote, you have to be registered. The voter registration deadline for the Florida primary was Feb. 18.
If you’re not sure whether you’re registered to vote or not, you can check here on the Florida Department of State website.
If you’re not registered, unfortunately, you cannot vote in the primary. You can, however, make sure you’re registered to vote in time for the general election in November. You can register to vote here.
Are you registered with a major party?
If you’re registered to vote, that doesn’t automatically mean you can vote in Florida’s presidential primary.
Florida is a closed primary state, which means you have to be registered with one of the state’s major political parties in order to vote. The Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida are the only two major political parties in the state.
The closed primary also means you can only vote within your registered party. For example, if you’re registered with Florida’s Democratic Party, you can’t cast your ballot in the primary for President Donald Trump – or, if you’re registered with the Republican Party of Florida, you can’t vote for a Democratic presidential candidate in the primary.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re registered with one of Florida’s two major political parties, you can check online here.
If you’re not registered with a major political party, you cannot vote in the presidential preference primary because it’s too late to change your party affiliation and register with one of the parties. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t head to the polls. Some areas in Tampa Bay are holding nonpartisan municipal elections on March 17 too. All eligible voters can vote in those local races.
If you want to change your political party affiliation, you can do that online too. But keep in mind, that won’t take effect in time for the presidential primary.
Know when you can vote
Did you know you can vote before election day? Early voting for this year’s presidential preference primary has already started in some Tampa Bay counties. If you’re interested in voting early, check the Supervisor of Elections website for your county and find an early voting site. Voters can vote at any early voting site within the county when the site is open.
If you aren’t planning on voting early, election day is March 17. Most polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day. It’s important to note that lines may be long but anyone physically standing in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot.
Know where you’re voting
Whether you plan on participating in early voting or if you’re going to wait until the actual election day – it’s important to know where you’re going when it comes time to cast your ballot.
The easiest way to find your polling location is by visiting Florida’s Department of State website and submitting your information. You can also visit your county’s Supervisor of Elections website.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some polling locations have been changed due to concerns over the coronavirus. Please check here to see if your location has been impacted.
Make sure you bring everything you need
When you head to the polls, whether it be on election day or before for early voting, you will need a valid identification in order to cast your ballot.
Polling places will accept any of these photo IDs:
- Florida driver’s license
- Florida ID card
- United States passport
- Debit or credit card
- Military ID
- Student ID
- Retirement center ID
- Neighborhood association ID
- Public assistance ID
- Veteran health ID card
- License to carry a concealed weapon
- Employee ID card issued by federal, state, county or municipal government
Your photo ID must include your signature. If it doesn’t, you will be asked to provide another form of ID that does have your signature.
While it’s not necessary to vote, you may also want to bring a copy of your sample ballot.
Know what’s on your ballot
You should be aware that, while many presidential candidates have dropped out of the race, some of them will likely still appear on your ballot. When candidates drop out, they have to file with the state to “officially withdraw” by a certain deadline. Pinellas County voting officials say many of the candidates did not file to withdraw and will be on the ballots. All votes will be counted and included in official results, regardless of a candidate’s campaign status.
Before you head to the polls, it’s a good idea to know what you’re going to be voting on. You can find a sample ballot by visiting your county’s Supervisor of Elections website.
Here are the sample ballots from Tampa Bay area counties:
- Citrus County – Democratic ballot
- Citrus County – Republican ballot
- Hardee County
- Hernando County – Democratic ballot
- Hernando County – Republican ballot
- Highlands County – Democratic ballot
- Highlands County – Republican ballot
- Hillsborough County – Democratic ballot
- Hillsborough County – Republican ballot
- Manatee County
- Pasco County
- Pinellas County (Composite ballot)
- Polk County Democratic ballot
- Polk County Republican ballot
- Sarasota County ballot
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