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Politics / Issues

Presidential Primary Voter Deadline Is Tuesday

Sign reading "Vote precinct precinto"
Bobbie O'Brien

February 16 is the last day to register or change your party affiliation if you want to vote in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary which is set for March 15, 2016.

There are some other important distinctions voters should know.

Not all registered voters can vote in the upcoming Florida presidential primary because the state runs a closed primary.

“That’s a huge issue we have reminding voters of that,” said Brian Corley, Pasco County Supervisor of Elections and president of the Florida State Supervisors of Elections Association.

That means only registered Republicans can vote for the 13 GOP candidates and only Democrats for the three Democratic candidates.

“For example, we have a No Party (Affiliation) or independent that wants to be involved, they’re switching to Republican,” Corley said. “Or a Republican that wants to vote for Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is switching to Democrat.”

Also, if the candidate has not officially withdrawn and only suspended their campaigns like the Republican Chris Christie and Democrat Martin O’Malley, then that candidate will still get the vote.

It’s a winner “take all” for the Republicans which means the winning Republican candidate gets all Florida delegates for the national convention. The Democrats split their convention delegates among the congressional districts they win and also have a “super delegate” system.

Ballots for the Florida Presidential Primary are in the mail for those who have requested a “Vote-by-mail” or absentee ballot. Hillsborough sent out 93,000 Vote-By-Mail ballots on Friday.

Corley said his office has seen an increase in phone calls, emails and people going online.

“Checking their registration status, checking what political party they are, asking the last date they can change their political party,” Corley said. “There’s definitely a buzz and uptick. We’re seeing party switchers, new registered voters. The voter clearly seems to be engaged.”

In addition to mail-in ballots, he said there will be early voting. Each county establishes its own schedule which can run from eight to 14 days prior to the Election Day.

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