Get ready to vote in the August 2020 primaries

Election 2020

Less than 30 days from now, vote-by-mail ballots will be on their way to voters who requested them (request your mail ballot here). Early voting begins August 8 and primary Election Day is August 18.

Between now and then, I will research the candidates and referenda that will be on the ballot for Collier County voters and share what I learn in a series of “Get Ready to Vote” posts. This is the first in that series.

I will also be hosting a Zoom presentation on the topic on July 9. Save the date.

In this post, I’ll share the types of races and who gets to vote in each. Then I’ll turn to the offices up for election this year, and which will and will not be on the ballot. Next, I’ll list the three referenda that will be on the ballot. And I will close with the steps you should take now to ensure you’ll be ready to vote in August.

What are the types of races and who gets to vote in each?

Partisan vs. Nonpartisan

In Florida, there are partisan races and nonpartisan races.

Partisan races are those in which the registered members of the Republican and Democrat parties choose their nominees to face off in the general elections in November.

Nonpartisan races are those in which all voters regardless of party affiliation may vote.

Trial court judge and school board elections, which begin with primaries, and elections for the boards of the Soil & Water Conservation, Mosquito Control, Fire, and Community Development districts, which take place in the general election, are nonpartisan; all other races are partisan.

This year, all the races on the primary ballot are partisan races because the incumbents in the judicial and school board positions up for election qualified to run and were unchallenged.

Closed vs. Universal

Florida is a closed primary state, which generally means that only people registered with a political party may vote in that party’s primary.

However, if all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary will not face any opposition in the general election, then all registered voters may vote in that election. It is then referred to as a universal primary.

This year, there are both closed and universal races on the primary ballot.

As I explained in Party Affiliation and Florida as a Closed Primary State, it is very important to understand the implications of your party affiliation on your ability to have input into who will appear on the general election ballot.

At-Large vs. Single-District

In Florida, there are both at-large elections and single-district elections.

In at-large elections, all the voters in the geographic area governed by the elected body elect the members of the body. Local examples are school board members and constitutional officers, which are elected by voters county-wide.

In single-district elections, voters residing in a particular district within the geographic area governed by the body elect a member from that district to represent them. Local examples are the elections of state representatives and county commissioners.

This year, there are both at-large and single-district races on the primary ballot.

Offices & Candidates

The deadline for candidates to qualify to run for office was June 12. The results of the qualifying process fall into several categories:


Twenty-three (yes, 23!) representatives of Collier County constituents will be elected without a vote because only one candidate qualified to run for the office. All are incumbents except as noted. This figure does not include seats up for election on the County’s Community Development Districts, which are outside the scope of Sparker’s Soapbox.

These are the 23 automatically-elected representatives:

No Primary Challenger

In one race, just one candidate per party qualified.

This race will bypass the primary and go directly to the November ballot.

On the August ballot

U.S. House District 19

The winners will face each other and write-in candidate Patrick Post in November.

State House District 80

The winner will face Democrat Laura Novosad in November.

State House District 105

The winners will face off in November.

County Commission District 1

The winner will face Democrat John Jenkins in November.

County Commission District 5

The winner will face Democrat David Turrubiartez Jr. and NOP Raymond Christopher in November.

Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller

The election will be decided in August.

Property Appraiser

The election will be decided in August.

On the Ballot: Referenda

All Collier voters will have a referendum on their ballot put forward by the School Board:

City of Naples voters will have a referendum put forward by the Naples Council:

City of Marco Island voters will have a referendum put forward by the Marco Island City Council:

Next Steps

  1. Learn which districts you live in so you will know which of the above-discussed races will be on your ballot. (You will be able to view your sample ballot online on or around June 29.)
  2. Check your voter registration status and confirm your party affiliation.
  3. If you requested a Vote-By-Mail ballot, confirm that your request has been received.
  4. If you have not requested a Vote-By-Mail ballot, do it now for the reasons I explained in Request a Vote-By-Mail Ballot Today.
  5. In the coming weeks, read my posts on the candidates and referenda — and encourage your friends and colleagues to subscribe to Sparker’s Soapbox!

That’s it for now. I look forward to becoming a more informed voter and sharing what I learn. It’s in all of our best interests to participate in an informed way in the election process and to take full advantage of our right to vote.

After all, democracy is not a spectator sport.

Scroll to Top