TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s primary election is Tuesday night and polls are open until 7 p.m.
The Aug. 18 primary election allows voters to choose which candidates they want to appear on the ballot in November. In the Tampa Bay area, voters will be weighing in on federal, state, county and district races.
Here’s what you should know before you cast your ballot:
Make sure you’re registered
In order to vote, you have to be registered. The voter registration deadline for the Florida primary was July 20.
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 online or make any changes to your voter information like changing your address or political affiliation.
Know your options for voting
As concerns over the coronavirus persist in Florida and all across the country, many are trying to figure out how they can cast their ballots and make their voices heard while staying safe.
One option is voting by mail. Vote-by-mail ballots can be delivered or picked up by registered voters who can then mail their ballot in or return it in a secure drop box. You can request a vote-by-mail ballot online until 5 p.m. on Aug. 8. If you choose to vote by mail, your ballot must be received by your local elections supervisor no later than 7 p.m. on Aug. 18.
If you prefer voting in-person but don’t feel comfortable being around crowds or in lines to wait, voting early is an option. Early voting allows you to cast your ballot before election day at certain polling places, which could help you avoid crowds. Early voting is already underway in some Tampa Bay area counties. You can check with your county’s election website to see when and where early voting is available near you.
And you can always go to the polls on election day if you prefer. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 18. As long as you are in line to vote at 7 p.m., you will be able to cast your ballot.
Know where you’re voting
If you’re voting in person – 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.
Know what’s on your ballot
Florida’s August primary doesn’t work like the presidential preference primary did in March. That means even if you’re not registered with Florida’s Republican or Democratic party, there are local races you will be asked to vote for in the primary election.
Here are sample ballots for all of the Tampa Bay area counties:
- Hernando County nonpartisan ballot
- Hernando County Republican ballot
- Hernando County Democratic ballot
- Referendum for Brooksville residents
- Highlands County nonpartisan ballot
- Highlands County Republican ballot
- Highlands County Democratic ballot
You can also check for your sample ballot on your county’s supervisor of elections website.
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.
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