Even though Florida is a “closed primary” state, several Collier County races will be “open” on August 14, and it’s important that every eligible Collier resident – regardless of party affiliation – get out and vote.
This post explains why. I’ll identify the races you should vote on, regardless of your party affiliation. And at the end, I’ll tell you how to make sure your voter registration is up-to-date, request a no-excuse-needed mail ballot (which I recommend), and find your polling place (which may have changed due to redistricting).
NOTE: Your voter registration must be up-to-date in the Supervisor of Elections’ records by July 16 in order to vote in the primary.
Closed ... but with a twist
Florida is a closed primary state, so generally only registered members of a political party may vote in that party’s primary election. As always in Collier County, there will be quite a few closed primaries in August.
But there ARE times when ANY registered voter can vote in a primary election, REGARDLESS of the political party they are registered in, even if they are registered without a specific party affiliation.
These are the exceptions to the “closed primary” rule, as summarized by the Florida Division of Elections:
- 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.
- If races for nonpartisan (i.e., free from party affiliation) judicial and school board offices, nonpartisan special districts or local referendum questions are on the primary election ballot, then all registered voters, including those without party affiliation, are entitled to vote those races.
Here’s how this will play out in Collier County in August:
Exception 1 results in three Constitutional Officer elections in which ALL COUNTY residents can vote, and one County Commission election in which ALL DISTRICT 3 residents can vote in the August 14 primary. (To find your district, click here.)
Constitutional Officers: All five Collier County Constitutional Officer positions (Clerk of Courts, Property Appraiser, Sheriff, Supervisor of Elections, and Tax Collector) are up for election this year. Three will be decided in OPEN primaries on August 14, and ALL COUNTY residents, regardless of party affiliation or district of residence, can vote:
Clerk of Courts: Incumbent Dwight Brock (R) is being challenged by John Barlow (R). As there are no non-Republican challengers, the winner will be decided in an OPEN August 14 primary.
Property Appraiser: Incumbent Abe Skinner (R) is being challenged by Kevin J. Lilly (R). The winner will be decided in an OPEN August 14 primary.
Tax Collector: Incumbent Larry Ray (R) is being challenged by Steven Wagner (R). The winner will be decided in an OPEN August 14 primary.
The Sheriff race will begin with a CLOSED Republican primary in which incumbent Kevin Rambosk (R) will face Victor Ortino (R). The winner will face Vincent “Vinny” Angiolillo (NPA) in November.
Our current Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards (R) had no challengers this year, so was automatically re-elected when the qualifying period closed on June 8.
County Commissioners: Three of Collier’s five Commission District seats are on the ballot this year. (See “Should you be voting for a County Commissioner in August?,” my May 10 post.) Districts 1 and 5 will have CLOSED Republican primaries. The winner in each will face a NPA (no party affiliation) or Democratic Party challenger, respectively, in November.
But in District 3 (where I live), the only candidates – Tom Henning and Bill McDaniel -- are Republicans. So under exception 1, ALL DISTRICT 3 residents can vote in the OPEN August 14 primary to determine who the next commissioner will be.
Exception 2, which deals with nonpartisan elections for judicial and school board offices and nonpartisan special districts, results in several OPEN primaries on August 14.
Judges: Three county judge positions are up for election this year. Incumbent Vince Murphy had no challengers, so was automatically re-elected when the qualifying period closed. Incumbents Eugene Turner and Michael Carr both face challengers, so there will be OPEN primaries for these positions in August. Four Circuit Court positions will be on the ballot as well.
School Board: Both incumbents whose positions were up for election – Kathy Curatolo (District 2) and Julie Sprague (District 4) – were unopposed, so were automatically “re-elected” to another term when the qualifying period closed on June 8.
For the Supervisor of Elections Office’s complete list of candidates in the 2012 local elections, click here.
Check your voter registration status and find your polling place
Visit the Collier County’s Supervisor of Elections’ website (www.colliervotes.com). Click the “Voters” tab, then “Review My Registration” (or get there directly by clicking here). Your registration must be valid and correct in the Supervisor of Elections’ system no later than July 16 - less than a month away.
Request a mail ballot
With the large number of ballot items, I urge you to vote by mail so you can carefully read the ballot and mark your choices in the comfort of home.
Even if you received mail ballots in the past, you need to request one again for this year’s elections.
You can request a form for yourself AND your immediate family members at www.colliervotes.com (click the “Vote By Mail” tab) or by calling the Supervisor of Elections office at (239) 252-8450.
Requests for absentee ballots to be sent by mail must be received no later than six days prior to each election (August 8 and October 31) but why wait? Do it now! Mailing begins about four weeks before each election. If you don't receive it, call the SOE at (239) 252-8450.
Regardless of your party affiliation – even if you have none – several important elections will be decided on August 14. Take a few minutes now to note which ones you’ll be voting on. Make sure your registration is up-to-date. Request a mail ballot (which I recommend), or mark your calendar NOW to vote in person – during early voting (July 30 – August 11, excluding Sundays) or on Election Day (August 14), and make note of your polling place.
Remember: Democracy is not a spectator sport.