Voter guide: Key dates, how to vote, and what you need to know ahead of Florida's elections
Here are the important dates, deadlines, and how to vote in Florida's elections.
It has been said that every election is the most important one in a generation — until the next election comes around. This year, however, may come closer to that old proverb than in previous years.
The threats to American democracy that were so vividly illustrated on Jan. 6, 2021, in the nation's capitol attest to that.
In Florida, races for governor, senator and congressional seats will be decided this year. And a host of local races for state Senate, the House of Representatives, county commissions and school boards are vying for your attention, as well.
Here's a list of some of the things you'll need to know:
- Deadlines to register: July 25 (primary election), Oct. 11 (general election)
- Deadlines to request a mail-in ballot: Aug. 23 (primary election) and Oct. 29 (general election)
- Florida primary election: Aug. 23
- General election: Nov. 8, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
How to register
You can register to vote online here.
To be eligible to vote, you must:
- 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; and,
- Not be a person convicted of a felony without having your right to vote restored.
You will also need:
- Your Florida driver license (Florida driver's license) or Florida identification card (Florida ID card) issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
- The issued date of your Florida driver's license or Florida ID card;
- The last four digits of your Social Security number.
The deadline to register for an upcoming election is 29 days before that election.
Vote by mail
Voters can obtain a mail-in ballot through their county's Supervisors of Elections offices. The deadlines to obtain a ballot is Oct. 29 for the general election. Ballots must be returned by Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
Click on your county for information on requesting a mail-in ballot:
- Hillsborough County
- Pinellas County
- Pasco County
- Manatee County
- Sarasota County
- Polk County
- Hernando County
Here are the deadlines and locations for early voting across the greater Tampa Bay region for the Nov. 8 general election:
Saturday, Nov. 5:
Sunday, Nov. 6:
What's on my ballot?
To see your sample ballot, go to your county Supervisor of Elections website, identify your precinct based on your address, and look for information pertaining to the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
You can find your precinct within your county by selecting your county below:
What do I need to take with me to the polls?
Whether voting during early voting or on Election Day, you must bring a current and valid photo ID with signature. Any one of the following photo IDs will be accepted:
- Florida driver’s license Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- United States passport Debit or credit card
- Military identification
- Student identification
- Retirement center identification
- Neighborhood association identification
- Public assistance identification
- Veteran health identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- License to carry a concealed weapon or firearm issued pursuant to s. 790.06
- Employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the Federal Government, the state, a county, or a municipality.
What CAN'T I bring with me to the polls?
Yes, you can bring your cell phone, but you CANNOT use it to take a selfie of you and your ballot.
No, you cannot bring your firearm into a polling center. Florida is one of at least eight states that explicitly bans openly carried or concealed firearms at the polls.
Florida also prohibits any political campaign materials or electioneering within 150 feet of polling places.
Tampa Bay-area elections
Two Congressional districts in the region should be hotly contested.
Eight people have qualified for a newly redrawn congressional district that includes western St. Petersburg and southern Pinellas County. On the Republican side are Anna Paulina Luna, Amanda Makki, Kevin Hayslett and Christine Quinn, who ran against Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor two years ago. The winner of August's primary will face Eric Lynn, the sole Democrat to qualify. State Rep. Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner dropped out after being drawn out of the district.
Castor's seat now includes downtown St. Petersburg. The Democrat faces a primary challenge from Christopher Bradley, with the winner facing Republican James Judge in November.
Incumbent Republican Scott Franklin is leaving Congressional District 15, which includes northern Hillsborough, southern Pasco and northeastern Polk counties. Democrat Alan Cohn is running again and will face off against three other Democrats. Several heavyweight Republicans are running, including state Senator Kelli Stargel, state Representative Jackie Toledo and former Secretary of State Laurel Lee.
Click herefor a list of candidates running for U.S. House, state House and state Senate seats.
- Click herefor local Pinellas County races
- Click herefor local Hillsborough County races
- Click herefor local Pasco County races
- Click herefor local Sarasota County races
- Click herefor local Manatee County races
- Click herefor local Hernando County races
- Click herefor local Citrus County races
- Click herefor local Polk County races
The big election statewide this year will pit RepublicanGov. Ron DeSantis against the winner of the Democratic primary, which includes Congressman and former Gov. Charlie Crist and Agriculture CommissionerNicole "Nikki" Fried, the only Democrat currently serving in statewide office.
Tampa Republican Ashley Moody is looking to be re-elected to the state's top legal post. She'll face the winner of the Democratic primary: Aramis Ayala of Orlando; Jim Lewis of Fort Lauderdale or Daniel Uhlfelder of Santa Rosa Beach.
Commissioner of Agriculture:
The winner of this crowded field will replace incumbent Democrat Nikki Fried, who is running in the primary for governor.
You can find a complete list of candidates here.
There are three Constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot this year:
Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission
This would abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets at 20-year intervals and is scheduled to next convene in 2037, as a way to submit proposed amendments or revisions to the State Constitution.
Limitation on Assessment of Real Property Used for Residential Purposes
This would prohibit the consideration of any change or improvement made to real property used for residential purposes to improve the property's resistance to flood damage in determining the assessed value of such property for ad valorem taxation purposes.
Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Specified Critical Public Services Workforce
This amendment would grant an additional homestead tax exemption for non-school levies of up to $50,000 of the assessed value of homestead property owned by classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and Florida National Guard members.
Funding for schools is a big issue this primary election, including votes to increase property taxes to help fund public schools in Hillsborough and Pasco County.
And in November, voters in Polk County will be asked to revive a program that would use an increase in property taxes to help protect environmentally sensitive lands.
Also in November, Hillsborough County voters will again be asked to approve a 1% sales tax hike to help transportation projects in the county.
And in November, Hernando County voters will get to decide on a tax hike that would go toward transportation and recreational projects.
School tax referendum
The School Board of Hillsborough County wants to levy an additional tax of ad valorem operating millage of 1 mil annually (one dollar of tax for each $1,000 of assessment) from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027, to help recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and staff; expand art, music, and physical education; and expand workforce development, sharing funds with charter schools.
School tax referendum
The District School Board of Pasco County would levy an additional operational ad valorem millage not to exceed one mill beginning July 1, 2023, and ending no later than June 30, 2027, for essential operating expenses to maintain salaries competitive with the market, attract and retain high-quality teachers, bus drivers, and other non-administrative school support employees.
Environmental lands referendum
The group "Polk Forever" wants to resurrect a property tax that was in place from 1994 to 2015. It would levy a tax of 20 cents per $1,000 on taxable property for 20 years. It is estimated this would cost the average Polk homeowner $30 a year.
Polk’s Environmental Lands Program has been able to finance the protection of more than 26,000 acres all over Polk County since voters approved the original tax referendum in 1994.
UPDATE: On Oct. 10, a circuit court judge rejected the transportation tax referendum, ruling in favor of the plaintiff in a lawsuit that said the language in the ballot question was misleading.
This would levy a 1% sales tax for the next 30 years, with the proceeds going to transportation projects.
According to the amendment, 45% of the proceeds would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, or HART, which operates the county bus lines. Hillsborough County would split the remainder with the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City — based on their population. And one-half percent would be set aside for the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization.
If voters approve the referendum, the tax is projected to raise $342 million in its first year.
In April, county commissioners agreed to ask voters in November to approve the sales tax by a 5-2 vote, with the board's Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting no.
A similar sales tax was approved by voters in 2018, by a margin of 57 to 43 percent. The state Supreme Court voided it last year after a legal challenge led by Republican Commissioner Stacy White. The court agreed with his contention that the tax was illegal because the spending allocations were set by a formula instead of by elected public officials.
The new amendment corrects that legal flaw.
The one-half-cent sales tax referendum is slated for the November 8 ballot.
If approved, the new tax rate will be effective January 1, 2023, and the generated tax revenue will be used to fund roadway and recreation projects.
A Citizen’s Oversight Committee would govern the new fund.
The additional sales tax revenue would mean extra money for roadways and recreation and a possible reduction in the millage rate for property owners. Eighty percent of the monies collected would go to road projects to relieve existing and future traffic congestion. The remaining 20% for recreation would provide additions to parks and recreational areas.
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