There are two weeks left to register to vote in the Florida primaries on March 15th. By Florida law, the registration books have to close 29 days before an election. In this case, that’s February 16.
Escambia County Elections Supervisor David Stafford says only voters registered as Democrats or Republicans can vote in this primary. About 21% of the county’s registered voters are either No Party Affiliation, or belong to a minor party.
“That 21 percent of the electorate has nothing to vote on in the March primary,” said Stafford. “What we have been seeing is that people are changing their party affiliation from one party to another, or more so, from No Party Affiliation or third party status into one of the two major political parties.”
As required by federal law, overseas absentee ballots to military personnel and expatriate Floridians went out on Friday.
“We sent about 2,300 paper mail ballots to voters, and then a little over 500 ballots electronically,” Stafford said. “And we’ve actually had some ballots that have come back.”
Domestic absentee ballots go out February 9th.
Okaloosa County Supervisor Paul Lux was asked whether there’s added interest among voters stationed at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field who will help decide their next commander-in-chief.
“It’s really a hard thing to gauge because so many of our military voters tend to have lower participation in primaries,” said Lux. “They’re all very, very good about voting in the general elections. But we do see more interest when we have the wide open presidential preference primaries.”
For Lux and his staff, the run up to both the primary and general election will be a busy time, including getting volunteer poll workers up to speed on new voting equipment.
For Tappie Villane, 2016 is her first presidential primary as Santa Rosa County’s Elections Supervisor, although she has worked on ten years’ worth of election cycles as a staff member. She says if you’re not registered, it’s a very easy process thanks to the “Motor Voter” law passed more than 20 years ago.
“We see the majority of our registration when they go get their driver’s license, or their Florida ID card,” Villane says. “We still see folks that register at the library; they may register when they go to get their fishing license, and then we have folks that still come into our office.”
More information, including whether or not you’re registered to vote in the primary, can be found at your county’s supervisor of elections website.