Everything you need to know about elections in Florida

2022 is a midterm election year. Make sure you can vote

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Another election year is here and there’s no time like the present to make sure you are ready to vote.

2022 is a midterm election year. While we won’t elect a president, in Florida we will decide who should fill some very important seats in government, including:

  • 1 U.S. Senate seat
  • 28 Congressional seats
  • Florida governor and lieutenant governor
  • Florida attorney general
  • Chief financial officer
  • Commissioner of agriculture
  • Members of the Florida Legislature (Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives)
  • County offices (commissioners, school board members, constitutional officers)
  • Judgeships

We should have a few Florida constitutional amendments too, along with local referenda from counties and cities.

Want to vote in Florida this year? Whether it’s your first time voting, or your voting circumstances have changed, here is everything you need to know to make sure your vote counts in 2022.

How do I make sure I am eligible to vote?

The first thing to do is make sure you are registered to vote. To do that, go to RegistertoVoteFlorida.gov. The site is run by the Florida Division of Elections. There, you can check whether you are registered, an active registrant and update your registration, if needed, or register to vote.

To vote in an election, you must be registered to vote 29 days before that election. So now is a good time to make sure your voter registration is squared away.

When you look up your information, be sure to use the name you registered under – likely your full first name.

Have more questions on making sure you are eligible to vote in Florida? We’ve posted more answers HERE.

When are the elections?

Florida’s primary is Aug. 23, which is for party elections but also for some nonpartisan county offices and judgeships.

If you are not a member of a political party, be sure to check with your county supervisor of elections office anyway because there may be a nonpartisan election you can take part in. There is always something to vote on.

The general election is Nov. 8. That election is open to all voters regardless of party.

Do I have to be a member of a political party?

To vote in a general election, you do not have to be a member of a political party. Also, you do not have to be a member of a party to vote for any nonpartisan election.

How do I vote in a primary?

Florida is a closed primary state.

In Florida, if an election draws more than one candidate from the same political party, there will be a primary election for that party.

For example, in the governor’s race, we know there are several Democratic candidates running for the office. That means on Aug. 23, Democratic voters will go to the polls and decide which candidate will face the other gubernatorial candidates in the November election.

Only Democrats can vote in the August Democratic primary for governor.

Now, if you decide you want to vote in a certain primary, you must change your party affiliation by July 25.

Sometimes it might be in your interest to change your party so you can vote in the primary.

For instance, in 2020, the Orange-Osceola state attorney race drew several Democrats, no Republicans and a no-party affiliate candidate, Jose Torroella.

Because Torroella was less known, it meant the Democratic primary largely decided who would be the next state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties. Monique Worrell, a Democrat, won the election.

It’s a decision that comes down to what races are important to you to vote in.

In the instance that only candidates from one political party are running for office, the primary election becomes open to all voters. This is known as a universal primary.

Learn more about Florida primaries, the loophole that can keep them closed, and how to change your party affiliation HERE.

Are all elections partisan elections?

No, not all elections require candidates to declare whether they are a member of a political party.

Examples of nonpartisan county or city/town races include:

  • County mayor or chairman races
  • County commission races
  • City mayor or council seats
  • Some county constitutional offices
  • School board races

County sheriffs are partisan races.

This may change depending on the county. Check with your county supervisor of elections to find out which races are partisan.

How do I run for office?

If you want to run for U.S. senator or representative, a Florida statewide office like governor or attorney general, to be a member of the Florida House or Senate, or for county or city office, the period where you qualify for office runs from Monday, June 13 at noon to Friday, June 17 at noon.

There are three ways to file for office:

  1. Pay a qualifying fee
  2. Get enough petition signatures to waive the qualifying fee and run for office
  3. Sign up to be a write-in candidate, which means your name won’t be on the ballot and supporters must write your name in for the vote will count

Qualifying fee costs can be found on the Florida Division of Elections website for federal and state offices. Check with your county or city to find out the qualifying fees for those offices.

Interested in running for office? We go in-depth on requirements, forms and other information HERE.

How do I find out what races are up for election this year?

The Florida Division of Elections says the following offices are up for election this year:

  • U.S. Senator (Marco Rubio is up for re-election)
  • All U.S. House districts
  • Florida governor and lieutenant governor
  • Florida attorney general
  • Florida chief financial officer
  • Florida Commissioner of Agriculture
  • All Florida Senate districts
  • All Florida House districts

County and city elections are different depending on where you live. You can go to your county supervisor of elections office’s website to find out what districts you are in and what county elections you are voting in this year.

Do I need to change my address if I’ve just moved?

First, let’s be clear that if you move, you should always update your address with election officials. It does not get automatically updated if you move, even if you move within the state of Florida. It’s important to make sure you vote in the right precinct.

You can update your voter registration online at RegistertoVoteFlorida.gov.

However, if you move close to an election within a county, polling place workers should be able to look you up in their systems and register a change in residence on your file.

Does my boss have to give me time off to vote?

In the state of Florida, the answer is no. This is why it’s important to note that Florida has an early voting period and a no-excuse vote-by-mail ballot system, so that you can vote when you have the time, not just on Election Day.

How do I vote by mail?

To request a vote-by-mail ballot, call or visit your county supervisor of elections office, or send them a written request via mail, email or fax. You will need to provide officials the following information:

  • Voter’s name
  • Date of birth
  • Full address
  • A Florida driver’s license, identification card, or the last four digits of the voter’s social security number for verification
  • If you’re sending a written request, you must provide a voter signature

Once you get the ballot, fill it out and be sure to sign the certificate envelope provided. Make sure the signature matches the one on file with the county elections office. If there is a discrepancy you may be asked to correct or “cure” a missing or mismatched signature on your ballot.

Many counties also have a way to track your ballot online to make sure it’s been returned and accepted at your county elections office.

The ballot must be returned to the county supervisor of elections office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. This means if you mail in your ballot and it doesn’t get to the office by Election Day, it doesn’t count. So get your ballot in as soon as you can. You can also drop it off at the Supervisor of Elections office. Some county elections offices also have drop boxes. Contact your county elections office to find out where a dropbox is.

More information on how to vote-by-mail is available on the Florida Division of Elections website or your county supervisor of elections office.

You should also call your county elections office or check their website to make sure your vote-by-mail request is still valid for 2022. You may need to renew your ballot request.

Can I vote early?

All counties have an early voting period before the primary and general elections. Counties will have early voting information available for the August primary election after July 24, and for the November primary after October 9.

The early voting period must start at least 10 days before an election. No early voting is allowed on the last Monday before the election, so the early voting period ends the weekend before. Some counties may offer a longer early voting period.

Early voting locations are not necessarily the same as your Election Day precinct. Public libraries are a popular place for early voting.

We’ll have more information as we get closer to the early voting period.

How do I vote if I’m living overseas?

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act allows members of the military, their voting-age family members and any U.S. citizen living outside the country to vote in elections.

To vote, you must request a vote-by-mail ballot. If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2020 election, you must put in a new request for elections in the 2022 calendar year.

County elections supervisors must send vote-by-mail ballots no later than 45 days before each election. The ballot can be mailed, emailed or faxed, based on your request. Only overseas voters can fax their ballots back.

Ballots should be returned to the county supervisor of elections office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day.

However, an overseas voter has an extra 10 days from Election Day for a vote-by-mail ballot to be received to the supervisor of elections office. This only applies to federal elections. The ballot must be postmarked or dated by Election Day in order to be counted.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program has specific return timelines for absent military and overseas voters.

How do I find where I vote?

All counties have a way to look up your voter precinct on their supervisor of elections websites. You can find your county’s website on the Florida Division of Elections site.

However, since right now the Florida Legislature is redrawing district maps, polling precincts may change.

County supervisors of elections will be mailing out new voter cards before the elections with the new info, so be on the lookout for those as well.

English is not my primary language. Can I get a ballot in another language?

Election forms and ballots in Florida are available in English and in Spanish. However, some counties may provide ballots in other languages as well. It depends on the concentration of speakers of those languages in that county.

Check with your county supervisor of elections office to see what language guides may be available.

What kind of identification do I need to bring?

Florida requires voters to present a photo and signature ID in order to cast a ballot. If these are on separate types of ID, you can provide multiple forms if needed,.

The following forms of picture identification are allowed if they are current:

  • Florida driver’s license
  • Florid identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • United States passport
  • Military identification
  • Student identification
  • Retirement center identification
  • Neighborhood association identification
  • Public assistance identification

If you do not have a proper picture ID, you will be given a provisional ballot, which will allow you to vote and then later provide documents to prove your identity.

Also, if your ID does not have a signature on it, you may be asked to provide more forms of identification.

What else can I bring to the polling place?

You are allowed to bring whatever materials you need, such as sample ballots, voting guides, newspapers or other documents, to help you vote.

Also, as long as you are not actively campaigning for a candidate, you are allowed to wear hats, shirts, stickers, buttons or other campaign paraphernalia.

Why is it some candidates/races are not listed on my ballot, even though there is an election?

If a candidate does not draw a challenger in a race, then that contest is not on a ballot. For that reason, you may not see that race on a ballot.

How do I write in a candidate?

Write-in spaces are provided on a ballot if there are qualified write-in candidates. Only official write-in candidates are counted as valid votes.

What is a provisional ballot?

If there is a discrepancy in your identification or signature, or if someone challenges the validity of your ability to vote, you may be given a provisional ballot instead. You fill out a provisional ballot the way you would fill out a regular ballot, and then provide supplemental documents to prove your vote is valid to the county canvassing board.

Provisional ballots are counted if found to be valid.

Why do some races require a runoff election?

In most elections, the candidate with the most votes is the winner. In some elections, particularly nonpartisan elections with more than two candidates, an outright winner of an election must garner the majority of all votes, what is known as “50% plus one.” If no one receives that majority of all votes cast, the top two vote-getters go to a runoff election to decide the winner.


About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.