Soon approaching is National Election Day on Nov. 3. But even before we get to Election Day, primary elections will be held on Aug. 18 in Florida. It’s important to set reminders for these dates to ensure you don’t forget to exercise your right to vote and to schedule a time in your day to go to the polls. Some other dates you may want to write in your calendar are the deadlines to register – July 20 for the primaries and Oct. 5 for the general elections.
Voting is so important, so here are some tips and tricks to make your voting experience the easiest, fastest, and most educated it can be.
Now that you know the important dates, you should also know that Florida is a closed primary state, meaning that if you are registered with a specific political party, you are allowed to vote in the primaries for only the candidates within that party. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to vote in the Nov. 3 general elections with the political party you are registered under.
Anyone 18 years or older should register to vote, which is actually very simple to do. Go to registertovoteflorida.gov and have your social security card and driver’s license available to fill in information like your name, driver’s license number, date of birth, last four social security digits, address, and whether you choose a political party. You do not have to choose a political party if you don’t want to; however, you won’t be able to vote in the primary elections. It is also important to note that voter registration and political party information is available to the public to see because it is considered a public record. You can change political party status and address status online if needed as well.
If you are already registered to vote or you can’t remember if you are, you can check your status online at registration.elections.myflorida.com/checkvoterstatus and simply type in your name and date of birth.
Due to the surge in coronavirus cases across the United States and especially in Florida, you don’t necessarily have to go to a polling location to vote this coming August or November. You can register to vote by mail. If you live in Orange County, you can register to vote online at ocfelections.com. On this same website, you can also find information about the local candidates running in your area. If you don’t live in Orange County, you can find your local Supervisor of Elections office at https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/supervisors/, where you can then look up your county supervisor website to request a vote by mail ballot. When voting by mail, your ballot will be mailed to you between 40 and 33 days before the election date.
Being educated about your voting choices is your right in order to get the best people into power and make the best decisions for you. BallotReady.org helps voters all over the United States know who exactly is running, all by simply looking up your address on the website. Oftentimes, the Supervisor of Elections website also lists local candidates who are running for various positions. Along with the knowledge of who is running, most candidates, including the local candidates, will have websites with information about their campaign. Looking into a candidate’s prior occupations before running for office positions can also shed some light on their leadership capabilities and how fair the candidate has run their campaign. Most information about candidates who run for various office positions are often public, so don’t be afraid to do a deep dive into a candidate’s past and present because, after all, these candidates might be representing you.