Florida voters can cast their ballots for three statewide measures, as well as candidates for empty congressional seats as midterm elections approach on Nov. 8.
While Republican Rick Scott will continue to represent Florida in the Senate, incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio will be defending his spot against Democrat Val Demings on the ballot. All seats of the House of Representatives will also need to be filled, according to Ballotpedia, including 28 representatives for Florida.
Alongside issues of national interest on the ballot, Florida voters will also have to decide the next governor. Candidates include Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democrat Congressman and former Gov. Charlie Crist.
DeSantis’ run follows a four-year term marked by the passage of a series of contentious pieces of legislation, such as the “Stop Woke” Act, “Don’t Say Gay” Bill and a 15-week abortion ban bill. Over the course of the pandemic, he gained national attention and support for Florida’s lax pandemic policies, such as the prevention of vaccine passports with the passage of Executive Order Number 21-80.
During his time in office, DeSantis has awarded over $120 million in scholarships and funding for nurses and nursing education across the state in an attempt to address shortages experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a May 16 press release.
The governor also allocated $9 million in relief funds for Florida universities impacted by Hurricane Ian, according to an Oct. 26 press release from his office. The bill created partnerships between local school districts and affected colleges to develop career academies for law enforcement, teaching, nursing and emergency services.
Crist, who previously served as Florida governor from 2007 to 2011, will challenge DeSantis’s campaign with a left-leaning agenda. Crist has publicly stated that if elected as governor, his first action will be to repeal House Bill 5, or the 15-week abortion ban, according to a May 20 Florida Politics article.
Current polling issues popular among voters on a national level include inflation and the economy, abortion, political polarization following former President Donald Trump’s tenure and the future of the Democrat Party, according to an Oct. 12 New York Times article.
Three legislatively referred constitutional amendments will be up for vote statewide on the midterm ballot. The first amendment deals specifically with how the state would calculate property taxes and assessed value for homes that have had flood resistance improvements.
Amendment 2, or the “Abolish the Constitution Commission Measure,” will allow voters to decide whether the state should keep the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (FCRC). The FCRC is a 37-member committee board that convenes to vote on whether to make changes to the state constitution every 20 years.
The third amendment is an additional $50,000 property tax exemption for any residences owned by public service workers, such as law enforcement, teachers, members of the military and social workers.
Voters in Hillsborough County will also have one specific measure on their ballot, or a referendum for funding countywide transportation improvements by imposing an increased sales tax. If approved, the current sales tax will be raised by 1% for 30 years in order to pay for the construction of transportation infrastructure, as well as better current public transportation systems.
St. Petersburg and Sarasota will have two referendums up for vote in each respective city, including measures for infrastructural improvements, restructuring local voting committees and imposing property tax exemptions.
Students looking to vote will first need to check if they meet current voter registration standards for the state, which can be done online through the Florida Department of State website, or by printing and mailing a voter registration form or traveling in person to a local election office.
Although the deadline has passed for midterm registration, state voting regulations require voters to register at least 29 days before an election to cast their ballot in future congressional or presidential races.
To check voter registration status in Hillsborough, Sarasota and Manatee counties, eligible students can visit the Supervisor of Elections’ website. If looking to make any changes to voter registration information — such as name, residential and/or mailing addresses and party affiliation — more information is available on the following page.
Participation in early voting required that eligible residents of Hillsborough, Sarasota and Manatee registered prior to Oct. 11. If a student meets voter registration standards, they can visit any Early Voting site to cast their vote between Oct. 24 and Nov. 6. Voting locations can be found at the following websites for Hillsborough, Sarasota and Pinellas, respectively.
Students visiting voting centers during the early voting period or on election day should remember to bring one or two forms of identification displaying their signature and photo.
Those planning to vote on Nov. 8 will need to cast their ballot in their assigned precinct from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which can be searched on the Supervisor of Elections’ websites for Hillsborough, Sarasota and Pinellas.
Mail-in voters must have their return envelope and Vote by Mail ballot turned into a ballot intake station or to the Supervisor of Elections’ office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day for their vote to be counted.