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
- If you’ve been convicted of a felony, you must have been granted clemency by the governor to restore your right to vote in Florida. This will change if Amendment Four (4) passes in the 2018 General Election.
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. That means anyone who wants to vote in the Aug. 28 primary must be registered by July 30, 2018. And if you miss that deadline, you have until Oct. 9 to register for the Nov. 6 general election.
Don’t delay! The elections office makes no exceptions here, so you should register as soon as possible. Learn more in our Mini 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. (You’ll have the chance to vote in all races regardless of your political affiliation.)
However, if you’re like many Floridians in that you elect not to register as a member of a party, you can still cast your ballot in some 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.
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.
You’ve got the first part out of the way—now it’s time to decide who and what you want to vote for.
Your first stop: right here! We’ve surveyed the candidates who will appear on your ballot so we can find out their positions on the issues that matter most to you, and we’ve posted that information here in our nonpartisan election guide to make it as simple as possible for you.
We’ve included 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 directly to the candidates so you can hear what they have to say on the issues that matter most to you.
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, also known as “absentee ballots,” are available to all Pinellas County residents, regardless of where they are located on Election Day. A vote-by-mail ballot is sent to your home along with a secrecy sleeve and a return envelope. 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 one week beforeElection Day.
You can also drop off your vote-by-mail ballot at any one of the three Supervisor of Election offices in Pinellas County.
- 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: assembling the ballot and signing the exterior can be confusing for some and, if you mail in your voted mail ballot too late and it arrives at one of the Supervisor of Elections offices after 7:00PM on Election Day, your ballot—your vote—won’t be counted.
You can request a vote-by-mail ballot by taking one of these three steps:
- Filling out this online form
- Sending an email to MailBallot@VotePinellas.com
- Calling 727-464-VOTE (8683)
You should be aware that 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. That’s why it’s a good idea to update your signature on file every three years or so, 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 vote by mail in Pinellas County.
You can cast your ballot in person ahead of Election Day at one of the three Pinellas County Early Voting Centers.
Early voting for the 2018 Primary Election will take place between Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 26. Early voting hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
- 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 2018 Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 28. This online tool will help you find your polling place.
- Advantage: your polling place is likely to be very 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
Your next opportunity to vote is during the 2018 Primary Election on Aug. 28, 2018.
After that, you’ll get to vote in the 2018 General Election, which will be held on Nov. 6, 2018.
And with that, you’ve just done the most important thing you can do as a United States citizen—you made your voice heard when it comes to our government. Thank you for doing your part to make democracy work!