Early Voting For The Primary Starts Today

Florida residents registered as Democrats can now cast their vote for the primaries.

Democrats Early Primary Voting Starts Today

By Keyvan Antonio Heydari

March 10, 2020

If you are registered to vote as a Democrat in Florida, get ready and start your engines, because the race for March 17 Democratic presidential primary starts today.

With the Democratic race for president down to a choice between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, early voting for the crucial Florida primary is open now in all of the state’s counties for the the March 17 election. 

By Florida law, early voting must be available for at least eight days prior to elections. Some counties allow a full two weeks to cast an early vote; others just the statutory week. Citizens can cast an early vote at all of these locations and times no matter in which precinct they are registered in.

Florida Is A Closed Primary State

This means voters have to cast votes in the party of their registration. Those who are “Independent” or “No Party Affiliation” (NPA) are excluded. María-Elena López, vice-chairperson of the Miami-Dade Democratic party, asserts that Hispanic voters in Florida need to be better-informed for the partisan primaries, especially those who registered as NPA, noting, “Many people register and don’t understand what the two-party system means. We have to do more outreach. They ask, ‘Why can’t I vote for who I want?'”

On primary election day, Tuesday, March 17, voters can only cast ballots in the voting precinct where they’re registered. Those who voted by mail early for a candidate that dropped out of the presidential race (Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer or Amy Klobuchar) will not have the opportunity to recast or change their vote.

This Is How You Make Your Vote Count

Florida voters are taking measures to prevent casting an irrelevant primary vote, as it happened to some in Texas, when several presidential candidates dropped out before Super Tuesday. Tampa voter Julia García requested a vote-by-mail ballot but is going to deposit it at the early voting precinct only one day before the primary. “I don’t want to vote until the last minute,” she reveals. “I have the ballot, but I’m not mailing it in.” 

“If you don’t want others to limit your voting options, you need to be in the process from the beginning,” said Adriana Rivera, communications director for Alianza, which organizes and registers Puerto Ricans in Florida to vote. “That way, you have a say in the primary elections, not just in the presidential choice in November.”

Jimmy Torres-Velez runs a program reminding Puerto Ricans to vote in the primary on behalf of Hispanic Federation. Under the flag “Boricua Vota” they take a parranda to public places, where the music calls attention and raises consciousness about the primary. The bottom line: many people don’t know there’s an election coming. “In Puerto Rico, it’s imposible not to know there is an election underway,” Torres-Velez says. “You get bombarded with information about it. In Florida, you may not find out in the same way.”

“Since we’re in politics, we think everybody also knows what’s happening,” he adds. “We can’t afford to lose voters because they [are not aware].”  




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