2020 Election

Before COVID-19 and before the death of George Floyd, Monique Sampson said she thought Joe Biden and President Trump were "different wings on the same bird."

Florida's elections system, which has been the butt of political jokes for almost two full decades, got a reprieve this week, as President Trump seemed to indicate it was the only state he felt confident could run a vote-by-mail system.

"Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!"

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach lost the Senate GOP primary on Tuesday, delivering a victory of sorts for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's strategy to hold on to his majority this November.

President Donald Trump at the podium
Andy Morataya/Joint Base San Antonio

After condemning mail-in voting for months, President Donald Trump is now encouraging Floridians to cast their ballots by mail, assuring in a social media post Tuesday that the state’s election system “is Safe and Secure.”

Voting By Mail Is Popular In A Pandemic, But It Is Not A 'Panacea'

Aug 3, 2020

Floridians are flooding elections supervisors with requests for mail-in ballots as they seek a safer way to cast ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but some experts warn that absentee voting is not a panacea.

Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media

WUSF wants to hear from you.

Florida Matters host Steve Newborn will be speaking with Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley and Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, about mail-in voting and other issues ahead of the Aug. 18 Florida primary elections.

What questions do you have about mail-in voting, or the primary in general amid the coronavirus pandemic? Fill out the form below, and let us know if you would like to participate in the show.

'Dark Money' Casts Shadow Over Florida Primaries

Aug 1, 2020

Direct-mail pieces thrashing state Sen. Perry Thurston, an incumbent in a crowded Democratic primary in South Florida, are linked to a web of political organizations with ties to a prominent Republican consultant.

More than 30 states have asked the National Guard to help safeguard the 2020 election from cyber threats.


Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday backed the efforts of the state’s elections chief and county elections supervisors after President Donald Trump suggested the possibility of postponing the November general election because of his aversion to “mail-in” ballots.

As Florida’s primary election draws near, voting rights advocates urge people to cast their ballots before election day.

All Voting is Local encourages people to vote early, whether by mail or in-person. The group’s Florida director, Brad Ashwell, says Florida should learn from the challenges other states saw during this year’s primaries:

“We’ve seen long lines. We’ve seen lots of problems. In Georgia, they had almost every problem you can imagine and we don’t want to see that relived in Florida.”

Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media

Nearly 700,000 ballots had been cast as of Monday for the Aug. 18 primary elections from more than 3.8 million vote-by-mail ballots sent to Floridians, according to numbers posted by the state Division of Elections.

A sign that says vote here today
Susan Giles Wantuck/WUSF Public Media

Primary election day is Aug. 18, and it seems every county in the greater Tampa Bay region needs poll workers to help out. Sarasota County will need to employ about 1,300 people to deal with the general election on Nov. 3. 

TALLAHASSEE --- With both sides claiming victory, a federal judge on Monday signed off on a settlement reached by the state and left-leaning groups over Florida’s vote-by-mail procedures.

The agreement, which was announced Sunday before a two-week trial was slated to kick off Monday morning, settled nearly all of the issues in lawsuits filed by Priorities USA, Dream Defenders and other plaintiffs seeking to make changes that would help expand voting by mail.

Joe Biden speaking on computer screen
Florida Democratic Party

Florida Democrats held their annual convention Saturday – this time virtually, in yet another concession to the pandemic.

This year’s Leadership Blue 2020 has added urgency, as the state is considered a must win for Donald Trump to get a second term in the White House. 

Congressional Candidate Reports Break-In At Florida Campaign Headquarters

Jul 6, 2020
Police have their guns drawn

Political intrigue overshadowed a congressional election in Florida on Monday, after a leading Republican candidate reported a mysterious, late-night break-in to her campaign headquarters.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously upheld laws across the country that remove or punish rogue Electoral College delegates who refuse to cast their votes for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.

The decision Monday was a loss for "faithless electors," who argued that under the Constitution they have discretion to decide which candidate to support.

Ballots in boxes
Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media

Face shields, temperature checks and disposable pens are just some of the safeguards Florida officials plan to employ to combat COVID-19, as they brace for elections in August and November.


On this week’s program, we took a closer look at voting in Florida and how the election might play out here this fall.


A federal appeals court granted Florida's governor a permanent injunction Wednesday, putting on hold a judge's ruling that had dramatically expanded the number of eligible voters in the state to include former felons unable to pay their court fines and fees.

three boats bearing U.S. and Trump flags
Susan Giles Wantuck/WUSF Public Media

Boaters and fans of President Donald Trump rallied in Tampa Bay and waterfront settings Sunday to celebrate Flag Day and the President’s birthday.

Benjamin Alexander Thaddeus John Horbowy wearing a MAGA cowboy hat

It was so quiet outside state elections headquarters in Tallahassee Monday, you could hear the faraway sound of a freight train whistle. The elections office is indefinitely closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

man sits with hand on side of his head
News Service of Florida

With his wife, Laurel, serving as secretary of state in Tallahassee, outgoing Sen. Tom Lee said Monday he will not run for local office in Hillsborough County this year.

Hundreds of thousands of people descended on the nation's capital and cities across the country over the weekend in continued demonstrations sparked by George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The protests were largely peaceful, and their meaning has extended beyond Floyd's fate to the larger issue of policing in America and police treatment of black Americans.

"Don't let the life of George Floyd be in vain," a county sheriff said at a memorial service for Floyd on Saturday in North Carolina.

protestors march and hold signs
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

The mayors of Tampa Bay's two largest cities are reacting to state Republican leaders floating the possibility that this summer's Republican National Convention could be coming to Florida.

Democrats in Florida are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to accept funds from the federal government earmarked for safe and sanitary election costs. Florida is one of six states that hasn’t requested the election safety funds made available through the CARES Act. Congresswoman Donna Shalala suggests there are plenty of ways Florida could use the money.

“We should be expanding programs like vote by mail so people can vote in the safety of their own home," Shalala said. "Florida should also expand early voting to make voting easier and secure social distancing at polling places.”

 Alexia Fodere
Miami Herald / WLRN

It came a week after the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but a virtual roundtable on climate change and its effects on Florida took place Monday.

The League of Conservation Voters event was held in conjunction with the Joe Biden for President Campaign and spoke about how the former vice president would address the issue if elected. The LCV endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee last week.

It now seems apparent that COVID-19 will dominate American life for months to come, quite possibly through the national election in November.

That means the disease, and efforts to respond to it, will likewise dominate the 2020 campaign and make it largely about something it has never been about before.

That something is science.

Editor's note: This story contains a graphic description of an alleged sexual assault.

Tara Reade, a former junior staffer in Joe Biden's Senate office, has accused the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she was working as a staff assistant. The Biden campaign denies the accusation and says the alleged incident "absolutely did not happen."

A voter filling in a ballot.
Wikipedia Commons

Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic dampened voter turnout across the state of Florida for Tuesday’s presidential primary election.

With federal health experts warning the country may not turn a corner on containing this virus until the summer, some election officials are preparing for an August election that involves nobody going to the polls.

Frank Hibbard For Clearwater Mayor

Former Clearwater mayor Frank Hibbard will lead the city once again.