It’s on! Florida presidential primary ballots already going out

Sample ballot - 1
That's even if candidates have been largely ignoring Florida so far.

Though the official Florida presidential preference primary date isn’t until March 17, thousands of Florida primary ballots already are in the mail.

Yet Florida Democratic voters have  barely had any sightings of any of the 12 Democratic presidential candidates who are officially running in Florida.

Saturday, 45 days out from primary election day, is the statewide deadline for county Supervisors of Elections offices to mail the first round of ballots to absent military or overseas voters. Some counties, such as Orange County, have comfortably beaten the deadline, mailing out the ballots earlier this week. Hillsborough plans to mail and email out about 2,000 Friday.

Supervisors won’t tally how many ballots are going out in this first wave until next week. In the 2018 general election, Florida Supervisors mailed approximately 75,000 ballots to absent military and oveseas voters, but that was an election in which all registered voters were eligible. This time, independent and third-party voters are not eligible and will not get ballots, unless they reside in cities that are having municipal elections on March 17.

Ordinary mail ballots can go out as early as next Thursday, and many will go out immediately on that date. For the 2016 presidential primaries, more than 1.8 million mail ballots were sent out.

This comes despite the fact that Democratic presidential candidates have largely ignored Florida to date, at least in terms of personal appearances.

The Democratic primary ballots mailed out this week and all of those that’ll start going out next week, just like the ones the rest of Florida’s voters eventually could see at polling places, include 12 Democrats running for president, plus the names of four others who were candidates when the ballot language was locked but who have since dropped out.

Four Republicans including President Donald Trump are on the GOP primary ballot. None of Trump’s opponents are considered viable.

Democratic candidates appearing on the ballot are: Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, businessman Tom Steyer of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and businessman Andrew Yang of California.

Two candidates initially forwarded by Democrats, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, dropped out before the ballots were drafted, and were not included. But four more Democrats appear on Florida’s presidential primary ballot even though they have been officially withdrawn by the Democratic National Committee after they suspended or ended their campaigns: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, and businesswoman Marianne Williamson of California.

The parties themselves get to decide who the candidates are in primary elections, and the Democratic Party has ruled out those four so far, so “these are not official candidates,” cautioned Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles.

“Those four names are on the ballot,” Cowles said. “But under state law, these are not real candidates in this state.”

Voters will simply have to pay attention. Recommended notices going out don’t explicitly say which candidates are disqualified. The notices being mailed with the ballots say only, “Some party candidates for president have reportedly suspended or ended their presidential campaigns.” Similar messages are expected to be posted in voting booths on March 17.

Many of the official candidates’ desperate hopes ride only on miraculous showings in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or at least among the 14 states deciding on Super Tuesday, March 3, so many if not most are expected to drop out before Florida’s primary date.

Besides Trump, the Republican presidential primary candidates on Florida’s ballot are businessman Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente of California, former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

There also are numerous municipal elections and a few local initiative ballot questions throughout the state set for March 17, and voters in those cities are getting municipal ballots regardless of whether they’re also getting Democratic or Republican presidential primary ballots.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • Sonja Emily Fitch

    February 1, 2020 at 5:56 am

    DEAR VOTERS, VOTE OUT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE REPUBLICAN TRAITORS! Register, Vote and Remove the liars, perverts, racist traitors from Office.

    • John Kociuba

      February 1, 2020 at 8:47 am

      Dear Citizens ~

      Re: Emily

      If you want Florida to be a high tax, high crine, high gang-illegal immigrant State, if you want Florida to be anti Christian, anti family, anti pro life like New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland Connecticut, Illinois, California, than vote DEMORATS!

  • gary

    February 1, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Bring it on… Time to watch the demoRATS sob on TV again!

    MAGA 2020

Comments are closed.


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