ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s midterm elections do not get the attention from voters that a presidential election gets, but they are no less important.
Voter turnout usually trends lower for midterm elections, though 2018 saw 63% of voters come out to the polls, the highest since 1994, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Florida voters in 2022 will decide if Gov. Ron DeSantis will stay in office, who should run the Florida Legislature, who should represent them in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, all the way down to county commissioner and school board member.
One could say these races have a more direct impact on the day-to-day lives of Floridians than the presidential election does, with taxes, school curriculum and whether the roads you drive on should have tolls among the topics to deliberate.
So it’s important to make sure you are able to vote in Florida.
What you need to be eligible to vote
You are eligible to vote in Florida if:
- Be a citizen of the United States of America
- Be a legal resident of Florida
- Be a legal resident of the county in which you seek to be registered
- Be at least 16 years old to preregister, or at least 18 years old to register and vote
- Not be a person who has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having the right to vote restored
- Not be a person convicted of a felony without having your right to vote restored
There are no set rules for what makes a legal resident in Florida. The biggest thing is you must have a home in the state. Also, your home address cannot be a post office box.
How to register
There are a few ways to register to vote in Florida.
Florida has an online voter registration system. Go to Register to Vote Florida.gov. There you can register to vote, update your voter registration, and check to see if you are registered. The site is available in English and in Spanish.
Note, if you do this you must have a Florida drivers license or Florida identification card that is issued by the state.
You can also register to vote in person at the following offices:
- At the drivers license office
- At a public library
- At the Center for Independent Living
- At WIC and DCF offices
- At any supervisor of elections office
You can also print out a copy of the voter registration application and mail it to your county supervisor of elections office.
In order to register on a paper application, you must have:
- A Florida drivers license or Florida identification card
- OR The last four digits of your Social Security number
What’s the deadline to register to vote?
In order to vote in an election, you must get your voter registration application in 29 days before that election – a deadline known as “book closing.” Here are the book closing dates for this year:
· November general election: Oct. 11
What if I’m from another state?
If you are from another state, you need to fill out a new voter registration form for Florida. Your registration does not transfer from one state to the next. You need to make sure you are registered by the dates above in order to vote in a Florida election.
What if I’m registered and I want to update my registration (in-state change of address, change party affiliation, etc.)?
Say you need to change your address, or you want to change your party affiliation so you can vote in a party primary. If you have a drivers license, you can do this online at Register to Vote Florida.gov.
You will need a Florida drivers license or a Florida identification card in order to make those changes, otherwise you will have to download a voter registration application and mail in your changes to your county supervisor of elections office.
All changes to your registration also need to be in by book closing. Those are the dates listed above.
What if I’m registered to vote, but I haven’t voted in a while?
You may be considered an inactive voter. That’s when a voter’s information is not able to be verified, and then an address verification letter is sent to you, but is returned as “undeliverable.”
To go from being an inactive voter to an active voter, all you have to do is vote, or contact your county supervisor of elections office.
Being an inactive voter does not stop you from voting.
If you’re curious if your voter registration is active, you can go to Register to Vote Florida.gov, and look up your registration under “Am I Already Registered?”
What if I’ve been removed from voter rolls by accident?
The Florida Division of Elections says voters are removed from the rolls if they are dead, not a U.S. citizen, not listed with a valid Florida registration, or has had their voting rights taken away because of a felony conviction or are judged to be mentally incapable, or a voter has left the state and Florida election officials have been notified. A voter may also be asked to be removed from the rolls.
If you think you have been removed from the voter rolls by accident, you should contact your county supervisor of elections office immediately and submit a new voter registration application.
I am a convicted felon who has completed my sentence. How do I get my voting rights restored?
In Florida, certain felons who have completed their sentences are permitted to register to vote. Florida law requires that felons complete any prison and parole sentence, plus pay all applicable court fees.
Once this is done, you can register to vote with a new voter registration application.
Not everyone who is a felon is able to automatically have their rights restored. Felons who are convicted of violent felony crimes, for instance, are ineligible. The county supervisor of elections office will not be able to tell you if you are eligible to vote based on your status as a returning citizen.
If you need help figuring out if you can register to vote, contact the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition at 407-901-3749.