Voters Guide

What you need to know for Tuesday’s primary election

Election employees test ballot machines in preparation for early voting at the Miami-Dade County elections office.
Election employees test ballot machines in preparation for early voting at the Miami-Dade County elections office. Al Diaz

Planning to vote in Tuesday’s primary election? We’ve provided answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

Numerous races are on the ballot, notably the election for Miami-Dade County mayor, along with Republican and Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate. Various state legislative, school board, county commission and judicial seats are also up for grabs in Miami-Dade and Broward.

I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat. Should I bother to vote?

For some offices, like U.S. Senate and Congress, only registered members of a specific party may vote. But in Miami-Dade County, all registered voters can cast a ballot for mayor, school board, county commissioner and judge. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held in November between the top two finishers.

In Broward, independents can vote in non-partisan races, including contests for judge, state attorney and school board. Voters in both counties are also voting on a constitutional amendment about solar energy.

So is the mayor’s race in Miami-Dade ending Tuesday or not?

That depends. If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race ends. If not, the race heads for a November run-off on Election Day between the top two finishers.

That’s just for the mayor’s race?

No, that’s the rule for all non-partisan primaries, which is how most county-level and city-level races are decided. So school board races, judge races and other local posts could wind up on the November ballot if no winner is declared Tuesday.

What about the races for Miami-Dade County Commission?

Those three races would be eligible for a run-off, except each contest only has two candidates. A run-off is only a possibility with more than two candidates.

I’m a diehard Democrat. What races are important for me?

For Democrats in Miami-Dade, there are three contested primaries for U.S. Congress. There are also two state Senate and five state House primaries where Democrats will decide who represents their party in November.

I’m a rock-ribbed Republican. Who can I vote for?

Republicans in Miami-Dade have two contested primaries for U.S. Congress and state House. All the state Senate districts will be contested in November.

I heard there can sometimes be exceptions where everyone can vote in partisan primaries. Is that true?

Yes, in a few instances. When only one party has candidates on the ballot, all voters can vote in the primary since the November election will be moot.

Three seats in Democratic strongholds fit the bill. All voters in congressional 24 can choose between incumbent Frederica Wilson and challenger Randal Hill. There are also “open” primaries in state House races for districts 107 and 108.

I live in Broward County. What elections are important there?

In addition to the U.S. Senate primary, Broward voters will vote in a congressional race and for sheriff, supervisor of elections, clerk of courts, county commission, school board and judges.

The race that has drawn the most local and national attention is the Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova. Two Republicans are also competing for the same seat.

In state legislative contests, the biggest battle is a three-way Democratic race for a state Senate seat along the Broward coast. There are also county commission seats up for grabs, and the supervisor of elections race should be a spirited contest because the challenger has gained many high-profile endorsements.

When can I vote?

Voters who didn’t vote early or by mail can cast a ballot in person Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Ballots must be cast in voters’ assigned polling places. Voters waiting in line by the time polls close will be allowed to vote.

Can I register to vote on election day?

No. Registration closed Aug. 1.

How do I find my polling place?

Polling places are listed on voter information cards issued upon registration. Voters can also check online for Miami-Dade and Broward polling places.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

Valid photo identification, such as a Florida driver’s license, a state identification card, a U.S. passport, a debit or credit card, military identification, a concealed-weapon license, a Veteran Health ID card, student identification, retirement-center identification, neighborhood-association identification or public-assistance identification. Voters who provide identification without a signature will be asked to provide a second identification that does contain a signature.

What if I forget my valid photo ID?

Voters who do not provide acceptable identification at their precincts may cast a provisional ballot. It will count if the signature on the ballot envelope matches the signature on the voter’s registration application.

Didn’t the district maps change?

Yes. After years of legal wrangling, there are new boundaries for U.S. Congress and state Senate across the state. View the new U.S. Congress maps here and state Senate maps here.

State House maps have largely stayed the same, but you can view them here.

What will my ballot look like?

Miami-Dade voters can view customized ballots online. Broward voters can request to receive a customized ballot via email.

Can I request an absentee ballot in person on Election Day?

No. Florida law prohibits elections departments from issuing absentee ballots at their headquarters on Election Day. The only exception is for voters who fill out affidavits affirming an emergency prevents them from going to their assigned polling place.

I already received an absentee ballot. Can I still turn it in?

Yes. Completed absentee ballots must be received by elections supervisors in voters’ county of residence by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voters can’t drop off absentee ballots at their designated polling place. They must drop off the ballots in person at one of the following locations.

In Miami-Dade:

▪ Elections department headquarters, 2700 NW 87th Ave., Doral

▪ Elections department satellite office at County Hall (first floor), 111 NW First St., Miami

In Broward:

▪ Elections department headquarters, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Room 102, Fort Lauderdale

▪ Elections office behind Lauderhill Mall, 1501 NW 40th Ave.

Miami Herald staff writers Patricia Mazzei and Amy Sherman contributed to this report.