ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Many Florida voters who opted to make their votes count on an early ballot before next week’s presidential primary find themselves without a candidate in the race after several candidates officials ended their campaigns this week.
Orange County’s Supervisor of Elections said his office has been receiving calls from voters asking for a chance to vote again before Florida’s March 17 presidential preference primary.
“Understand the national parties gave the state the list of candidates for the ballot of Democrats and Republicans back in December," Cowles said. “There were 16 names on the Democratic ballot and there were four names on the Republican ballot.”
As of late Monday, there were still three candidates on the GOP ballot including President Trump and five on the Democratic side including Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Cowles said if you voted for a candidate no longer on the ballot you will still have a chance to make your vote count in November.
“This is all about selecting delegates," Cowles said. “The delegates will go to the conventions, the convention will choose a nominee, the nominee will be on the Nov. 3 general election."
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar added her name to the list of candidates who decided to end their bid for the White House Monday just hours before the 14-state super-Tuesday primaries.
Klobuchar’s announcement followed weekend departures by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire investor Tom Steyer.
That trio of suspended candidacies caught a lot of voters and political pundits by surprise.
“If they voted early by spending their vote by mail-in they can’t get it back," Cowles said. “But their vote will count no matter who they voted for because we will give that (totals) to the national parties.”
The week of Florida’s primary falling during spring break has become an inconvenient calendar issue that Cowles and others feel could skew voter turnout.
“The issue for us is with schools closed, we know that we can’t have poll workers because grand-parents are babysitting the grand-kids or people are traveling,” Cowles said,
He stressed that anyone that wants to vote in the primary to take advantage of the early voting between now and March 15.
“That’s the beauty of the vote-by-mail and the early voting that started today people can still cast their votes,” Cowles said.
All voters should check their respective county supervisor of elections web sites for locations for early voting.
For orange county go to: https://www.ocfelections.com/early-voting