ALERT: Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), all Florida voters are encouraged to request an absentee ballot for the upcoming August primary. You can request your ballot today and it will be mailed sometime between July 9–16. You can request your mail ballot from the Supervisor of Elections website online at https://www.votepinellas.com/VoteByMail, or by calling (727) 464-VOTE (8683).
Deadline to request a ballot to be mailed: August 8, 2020 at 5:00 pm
New Voter in Pinellas County: Start Here
Congratulations! You’ve decided to help make democracy work. Now what?
We know voting can be overwhelming and confusing. This step-by-step guide will help you navigate voting in Pinellas County, from registering as a voter to casting your ballot and everything in between.
Before you can register to vote in Florida, you need to determine if you’re eligible to vote. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a U.S. citizen
- You must be a legal resident of the state of Florida and a resident of the county in which you’re registering to vote
- You must be at least 16 years old to pre-register or 18 years old or older to register
- You cannot have been adjudicated as mentally incapacitated with regards to voting in Florida
- Voters passed Amendment 4 in the 2018 General Election. Under Amendment 4, anyone who has been convicted of a felony (except for felony sex crimes and murder) and has served their sentence in full will have their right to register to vote automatically restored. A bill was passed in May 2019 that laid out further conditions under which a returning citizen can have their right to register to vote restored. Since then the amendment has been the subject of ongoing litigation. Here's the latest regarding Amendment 4.
If you meet all of these conditions, then great—you’re eligible to register to vote!
In the state of Florida, you can register to vote in three ways: online, by mail and in person. We’ll walk you through each method so you can determine which one will be most convenient for you.
The Deadline to Register to Vote
The last day you can register to vote in an election is 29 days before that election. This year, those dates are:
- 2020 Primary Election: July 20
- 2020 General Election: Oct. 5.
Don’t delay! The elections office makes no exceptions here, so you should register as soon as possible. Learn more in our Guide to Voter Registration in Florida.
What You Need to Know About Party Affiliation
Florida is a closed primary state, which means only those voters who are registered members of a political party will be able to vote in the primary elections for partisan races. (In the general election, you’ll have the chance to vote in all races regardless of your political affiliation.)
However, if you decide not to register as a member of a party, you can still cast your primary election ballot in non-partisan races as well as most ballot issues. In fact, contests for non-partisan seats such as school board and judicial races are decided during the primary, which is why you should vote in the primary election even if you’re not affiliated with a political party.
Want more information before deciding whether to register with a political party? Learn more about the history, leadership, platform and policy positions of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties. The Division of Elections has a complete list of the political parties registered in Florida. (Note: “NPA” means “no party affiliation”; “IND” means “Independence Party of Florida.” They are not interchangeable.)
If you decide to register with a political party or that you want to change your party affiliation, all you have to do is update your voter record. You can do this by going to registertovoteflorida.gov or you can print out this form, fill it out and drop it off or send it by mail to one of the three Supervisor of Elections offices in Pinellas County.
Your first stop: right here! Ahead of each election, we’ll survey the candidates who will appear on your ballot so we can find out their positions on the issues affecting our community, and we’ll post that information in our nonpartisan election guide to make it as simple as possible for you.
We’ll also include our analyses of the constitutional amendments — as well as any ballot initiatives like county referendums and charter amendments — that’ll appear on the ballot.
You can also attend the candidate forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters throughout the election season. At most of these forums, you’ll have the chance to submit questions so you can hear what the candidates have to say on the issues that matter most to you.
You can also see how past candidates have answered our surveys and read our analyses of past ballot measures by checking out our archives.
Now you’re registered to vote AND you’re well-informed about the candidates and issues—you are officially ready to cast your ballot!
In the state of Florida, you have three options when it comes to casting your ballot: voting by mail, early voting and voting in person on Election Day. We’ll explain what’s involved with each option so you can make the decision that works best for you.
Voting By Mail
Vote-by-mail ballots (formerly known as “absentee ballots”) are available to all Pinellas County residents, regardless of where they are located on Election Day. You don’t need a specific reason or excuse to sign up to vote by mail, it is available to all registered voters. These are regular ballots that are just like voting in person, but you can do it from home.
A vote-by-mail ballot is sent to your home along with a secrecy sleeve and a return envelope about 30-40 days before the election. You’ll fill it out, place it in the secrecy sleeve and return envelope, sign the exterior of the envelope, and then drop it in the mail at least 10 days before Election Day. The Supervisor of Elections has announced that ballots will be postage-paid in 2020, so you won’t need a stamp. We recommend putting it in the mail as early as possible so you don’t risk delivery delays due to increased mail volume ahead of elections.
You can also drop off your vote-by-mail ballot at any one of the three Supervisor of Election offices in Pinellas County. In addition, the Supervisor of Elections’ office has announced plans to open drop-off sites throughout the county in 2020 as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. More details will be posted as they become available.
- Advantages: you’ll have plenty of time to study your ballot and fill it out in the comfort of your own home; you don’t have to wait in line at a polling place or even leave your home; you can vote on your own time; unlike voting in person, you’re not required to show ID in order to cast your vote-by-mail ballot.
- Possible challenges: some people forget to sign their VBM envelope, which is the top reason why VBM ballots are not counted in Pinellas County; if you put your your VBM ballot in the mail too late, it may arrive after 7 p.m. on Election Day, at which point your ballot will not be counted.
You can request a vote-by-mail ballot in one of four ways:
- Online: Filling out this form
- Email: MailBallotRequests@VotePinellas.com
- Phone: 727-464-VOTE (8683)
- Mail: Supervisor of Elections at 13001 Starkey Rd., Largo, FL 33773
The signature you use when filling out your voter registration form will be put on file so it can be compared with the signature you use on the outside envelope of your vote-by-mail ballot. If you register to vote online, the signature on your Florida driver license or ID will be used.
It’s a good idea to update your signature on file every few years, as your signature can change over time. To do that, print out this form and fill it out, then send it by mail or drop it off at one of the three Supervisor of Election offices in Pinellas County.
Learn more about voting by mail in Pinellas County.
Early voting for the 2020 Primary Election has not been announced by the Supervisor of Elections yet. If early voting will be made available, the dates and locations will be released closer to the date of the election.
- Advantages: you can vote in person if you’re not available on Election Day; lines are likely to be shorter than on Election Day
- Possible challenges: a lengthy ballot could be difficult for some to manage in the voting booth and result in longer wait times; Early Voting Centers may not be as conveniently located as your local polling place; you’ll need a valid form of identification that includes a photo and a signature on hand to vote in person
Voting on Election Day
You can vote in person at your local polling place on Election Day! The 2020 Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
This online tool will help you find your polling place. Please be sure to check your polling place on or immediately before Election Day, because sometimes there are last-minute changes.
- Advantage: your polling place is likely to be close to your home
- Possible challenges: a lengthy ballot could be difficult for some to manage in the voting booth; you’ll need a valid form of identification that includes a photo and a signature on hand to vote in person; the 12-hour window on Election Day may not be convenient for you
It’s important that you vote in the correct polling place for your current residence! Otherwise your vote may be invalid.
If you’re a registered Florida voter and you recently moved within or to Pinellas County, you can update your address at the polls on Election Day, but we recommend that you call the Supervisor of Elections office to update your address in advance.