BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The presidential election isn’t until November, but the deadline to register to vote in Florida’s Presidential Preference Primary is fast approaching.
Those wishing to vote in the primary must be registered by Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The primary is Tuesday, March 17; early voting days are March 2-15.
Florida is a key battleground state, which can swing the general election as it did in 2000, 2004 and 2016.
The primary process
Florida is a closed primary state, which means that only Democrats can vote for Democratic candidates and Republicans for Republican candidates.
“Florida is a closed primary state which means which means a person must be registered as a member of the party holding the primary. This is the election for the major party voters to cast their vote for their preference of candidate for the delegates to nominate at the respective conventions, said Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis.
Those familiar with the process say knowing about the closed primary is key.
“It’s critical. The thing is when people register no party affiliation (NPA) and independent you can’t vote in the Republican or Democratic primary, which is important,” explained Cynthia Slater, president of the Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP.
“The primaries are a way to vote for the candidate you want as well. In order to do that people should go ahead and change to a party affiliation if they wish to vote in the preferential primary.’’
On the Ballot
On the Republican ticket is incumbent President Donald Trump, former Massachusetts Mayor Will Weld and others.
Democrats will vote for one of the following: former Vice President Joe Biden; Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick quit the race this week.
The winner of the primaries will earn their party’s nomination and be on the ballot in the general election in November.
Historically, turnout in primaries have been low. In Florida, the turnout for the 2016 primary was 46 percent. In Volusia County, it was 27 percent.