Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Here's how to register to vote in Florida's presidential primary (P.S.: You have about 24 hours)



The 2016 candidates for president have already made their way through Iowa and New Hampshire, and will visit dozens of other states over the coming month before making their way south for Florida's March 15 primary. 

But if you want to cast a ballot next month, you must register by Tuesday, Feb. 16. And don't forget, Florida has a closed primary system, which means in most cases you must be registered with a party in order to vote. The primary ballot you receive will list only that party's candidates.

More than a million ballots are already on their way to mailboxes, and elections supervisors are expecting high turnout for the primary, which has an air of “it’s anybody’s guess” on both the Democratic and Republican sides.

"It's like nothing I've ever seen, as far as voter engagement and interest," said Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.

Here is what you need to know to get started:

To register in Florida, you must be a U.S. citizen, a Florida resident (which means you have a legal Florida address) and at least 18 years old.

Where can I register? You can register in person or by mail. First, you'll need to fill out a Florida Voter Registration Application, which you can find online or pick up at your county supervisor of elections office, DMV, public library or armed forces recruitment center. Once it is complete, you can take your form in person to one of the aformentioned locations or mail it to your supervisor of elections. The office addresses for each county are listed at the bottom of the application.

What else do I need to bring? This might come as a surprise considering all the controversy surrounding voter ID laws, but in Florida, all you need to prove your identity when registering to vote is a current and valid Florida drivers license number, Florida identification card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you don't have any of that information, check the application for alternate ways to prove your identity.

What is the latest I can submit my application? As long as your application is postmarked by the Feb. 16 deadline or delivered to one of the approved locations by then, you're safe. 

How do I know my registration went through? You'll be mailed a voter information card within two weeks of the approval of your application. It will include your polling place location. If you don't receive a card, the state recommends calling your local supervisor of elections.

Corley reminds voters that in the primary, both the Republican and Democratic ballots will list every candidate who had launched a campaign for the presidency, even if they have since dropped out of the race. 

"Suspending your campaign is not the same thing as officially withdrawing," he said. Withdrawing requires candidates to go through a formal process, including notifying each state. As long as a campaign is only suspended, candidates (or former candidates) can still fundraise to pay off campaign costs, Corley said.

"It's important to tell voters to double-check to make sure the candidate is still active," he added.

Find more information on how to register to vote here

[Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2016 4:03pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours