What You Need to Know About This Year’s St. Petersburg City Elections

This November will find St. Pete and Seminole voters electing a number of City Council members; voters in Seminole will also elect a mayor.

But before we can jump into the full-throated action of the November 5 Election Day, we must first nail down the candidates for the St Pete City Council districts 3, 5, and 7 in the St. Pete Primary Election on August 27.

Typically, for the August primary election, qualified St. Pete voters who reside in each district would vote for their district’s candidate as part of St. Pete’s single-member district election process. The two candidates receiving the most votes in each district will be placed on the general election ballot in November.

What’s slightly different here is that District 1 voters won’t need to vote in the primary as there are only two candidates, and they will automatically appear on the general election ballot. (See this post in our Voter Blog if you want more info on at-large vs. single-member districts.)

There’s another twist this year that will affect both the St. Pete City Council election and the Seminole elections for City Council and mayor: Both cities are exercising the option allowed under Florida law to forgo early voting.

In busier election cycles with federal and state races at play we usually have the “triple option” for voting: mail-in ballot, early voting at select locations for up to 10 days prior to Election Day or in-person at the precinct polls on Election Day.  This year we will have only the mail-in ballot and direct voting at the polls on Nov. 5.

If you need to sign up for a Vote By Mail ballot, be aware that a recent state law has changed the deadline to request a mail-in ballot to 5 p.m., 10 days prior to the election.  So the deadline for primary voters in St. Pete districts 3, 5 and 7 to request a ballot is already passed.

For those general election voters in St Pete and Seminole, your request for a mail-in ballot is due by 5 pm on Oct. 25.  The best way to request a Vote by Mail Ballot is to follow these instructions on the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) website.

While Florida law requires that all accepted Vote By Mail ballots are included in the official final election results, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Department of State informed a federal judge after the 2018 elections that 6,670 ballots were mailed but not counted because they were not received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. (Only overseas ballots have a grace period of up to 10 days after election day.)

So if you want to insure your mail-in ballot counts, we suggest a few things:

  • Review the information in this blog post on exactly that topic.
  • While it’s true that you can you can make your request for a ballot as late as just 10 days prior to election day, we suggest requesting your ballot no later than 10 or 12 working days prior to Election Day. That will give you time to receive it, research candidates and mail it back well in advance of the election-day deadline. (The SOE encourages you to allow one week to return your ballot by mail in order for the ballot to arrive by the election-day deadline; we encourage doing so even earlier.)

Also, be aware that on voting day you cannot drop your mail-in ballot off at your precinct polling location, only at the Supervisor of Elections office.

To insure goof-proof voting, the key idea is to start early, get informed, make a plan and learn about the candidates. These City Council members make decisions that affect your everyday life, like police and fire services, sewer and stormwater management, traffic control and the direction of development, as this recent post explains.

To get all the info you need for the St. Pete City Council candidates, check out our Voter Guide to see how each candidate answered the questions we asked them. You have a voice; use yours by voting!

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