Deadline to register to vote in 2020 Florida Presidential Primaries passes

By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 18, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – With the 2020 Presidential Election season in full swing, the clock is ticking to make sure you're registered to vote. In Florida, Tuesday was the last day to register to vote online for the state's primary in March.

It is a closed primary, which means in order to vote, you must be affiliated with a particular party.

On Tuesday alone, more than 120 people showed up in person to the Supervisor of Elections office. In total, more than 800 people were either newly registered or assigned to a new party in Leon County. But that was the calculations around 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The numbers continued to rise as registration continued online until midnight.

But earlier in the day, as voters were racing to the polls, hundreds showed up to make sure that their vote counted.

"I believe it is going to be big,” Irma Cornwell says. “I believe so, or I think it should, if they are Americans, I think they should vote."

According to the Supervisor of Elections Office, there have been more than 8,600 new registrations in Leon County this year. The office also say that since January 1, there have been 1,200 party changes in Leon County.

Cornwell changed parties Tuesday, making her one of more than 250 people to switch their political party. Jessica Hill, an FSU student, was one of more than 1,000 people who chose a party while registering to vote.

"It is very important to me," she says. "I think that is really important that people know about it. It is sad that a lot of kids in my generation don't care about it."

Mary May says she lost her voter registration card. She came into the elections office to be able to make sure she would be able to vote in the early election.

"As American citizens it is our duty and our right," May says.

But before you can take advantage of it, Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley wanted to inform potential voters that as primaries continue, candidates may dwindle and be out of the race, but still appear on the ballots.

"The nomination process is a relatively long process,” Earley says. “As everyone knows, Iowa has already had their caucuses. I think Nevada and South Carolina are up next....so there is going to be a lot of potential whittling of the field."

Earley also says it's important for voters to stay informed.

"I would advise voters to pay close attention. All votes will be counted for any of those candidates, but you still want to make sure that your choice is still a viable candidate," he says.

With Amendment Four still battling it out in Florida courts, Earley says that it is too soon to say how that will impact the election.

"There is a lot of uncertainty about that, but in general my message has always been if you have been convicted of a felony and you have completed all of your sentencing requirements, come get registered to vote," he says.

Those that filled out their applications are now looking ahead to what election season has in store.

"This is a pretty dynamic election year,” Earley says. “Three elections, a lot of interest so we are hoping to set records for that as far as elections go."

Cornell hopes others do the same.

"I hope they come and sign up for the right party and that way their vote can be heard and it can be counted," Cornell says.

For Spanish-speaking voters, a Spanish version of the ballot was available in addition to the English version, for both early voting in the presidential primaries, which starts on March 7, and the primaries' official date, which begins March 17.

In the state of Florida, all voting is done by paper, and all counties have machines that help voters cast their ballot.

Earley says currently, there is a bill being presented this legislative session called House Bill 1005/Senate Bill 1312, which would help create a newer and better process to do post-election audits and recounts.

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