Less than 100 days from now, vote-by-mail ballots for the August 28 primary elections will be on the way to Collier voters who requested them. Early voting begins on August 18.
Between now and then, I’ll be researching the candidates and issues to help inform Collier voters. And I’ll share what I learn in a series of “Get Ready to Vote” posts in the coming weeks and months. This is the first in that series, and I’ll start with the basics.
What will be on the ballot?
From the Collier Supervisor of Elections and Florida Department of State websites, I learned that these offices will be on the ballot if contested:
- Federal Legislative: U.S. Senate and House (Districts 19 and 25)
- State Executive: Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, Commissioner of Agriculture
- State Legislative: State Senate (District 28), State House (Districts 80, 105, 106)
- State Attorney 20th Circuit, Public Defender 20th Circuit
- Circuit Judges 20th Circuit, County Court Judges
- County: Commissioner (District 2 and 4)
- School Board: Member (Districts 1, 3 and 5)
What are the types of races and who gets to vote in each?
Partisan vs nonpartisan
Florida is a closed primary state, which means that only people registered with a political party can vote in that party’s primary.
In August, there will be both partisan elections, in which only registered party members can vote, and nonpartisan elections, in which all registered voters, regardless of party, can vote.
However, if all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary election will not face any opposition in the general election (i.e. no write-in candidates have qualified), then all registered voters can vote for any of the candidates for that office in the primary election. This is referred to as the “write-in loophole,” and it was a major factor in the 2016 primary elections. See Editorial: Act now to get write-in loophole fix on November ballot, Treasure Coast Newspapers via Naples Daily News, 4/8/18.
At-large vs single-district
In addition, there will be both at-large elections, in which all registered voters can vote regardless of where in the county they live, and single-district elections, in which only those who live in the district can vote. Your district information is printed on your voter registration card, or call or email the Supervisor of Elections office: (239) 252-VOTE (8683) or SupervisorofElections@colliergov.net.
Here is a summary of those distinctions for Collier voters’ August elections:
Things to do right now
- Request a vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot if you won’t be in town to vote in person or if you simply prefer the time savings of voting from home, as I do. Do it online by answering a few questions and then printing out, signing and mailing in a form, or by requesting a paper form to fill out from the Supervisor of Elections office: (239) 252-VOTE (8683). or SupervisorofElections@colliergov.net. The postal service will not forward vote-by-mail ballots, even if you’re arranged for mail forwarding. You MUST give the Supervisor of Elections the address to which your ballot should be mailed.
- Check the status of your VBM ballot if you’ve already requested one. Confirm it online or by phone (239–252-VOTE) (8683). For me, the website shows:
- Review your voter registration information and make any needed changes. Do it online or by calling the Supervisor of Elections office: (239) 252-VOTE (8683). Make sure they have your current address and the party affiliation of the primary you want to vote in. If the signature on file might not match your current signature, consider updating it. I update mine every few years.
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.