Thursday, May 19, 2016

Getting ready to vote in the August primaries


About 11 weeks from now, the first votes will be cast in Collier County’s 2016 primary elections, and many offices and issues are at stake.

Between now and then, I’ll be researching the candidates and issues that will be on my ballot, and sharing, as in prior years, what I find in this blog. (See here, for example.) I’ll support what I write with links to my sources, and conclude with who I’ll be voting for and why. If you find these posts helpful, please let me know. Reader feedback is what keeps this blog going!

I plan to focus on elections for School Board (see “School Board elections less than a year away”), County Commission, Constitutional Officers, the Florida House and Senate, the US House and Senate, and any constitutional amendments or other referenda that may be on the ballot.

In today’s post, I’ll summarize some of the basics about what’s in store.

The types of races and who gets to vote in which
Remember the kerfluffle in Palm Beach County when Donald Trump tweeted:

A lot of complaints from people saying my name is not on the ballot in various places in Florida? Hope this is false.

Turned out that some Trump supporters, not registered Republicans, were – properly – given ballots for the March 2016 elections with only the names of candidates in the municipal races. Because Florida is a closed primary state, only people registered with a political party can vote in that party’s primary.

Similarly, in the August primaries, there will be partisan elections, in which only registered Republicans or Democrats 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.

There will also be 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.

Here is a summary of those distinctions for Collier County voters’ August elections:


When is Election Day?
Election Day is Tuesday, August 30. Early voting is August 20 - 27. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed out about four weeks before Election Day, or around August 2.

Things to do right now
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, request a vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot. You can 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 by calling the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) office (239–252-VOTE).

If you think you’ve already requested a VBM ballot, take a minute to confirm your voter status either online or by phone (239–252-VOTE). I just checked mine and it says:

You are currently eligible to vote in Collier County. You have a standing request to receive an absentee ballot for elections occurring on or before Saturday, December 31, 2016.

If you want to make a change to your VBM request or to update your voter registration information, including your party affiliation, you can do it on that same screen, or from the SOE Homepage at www.colliervotes.com.

I look forward to doing the research to become an informed voter, and sharing what I learn with you. 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.



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