Voting is a right and not a privilege. In order to exercise this right, every voter in Hillsborough County must be informed and must know where to vote and how to do it. In Hillsborough County, there are three ways to exercise your right to vote: Vote By Mail, Early Voting and Election Day Voting.

In order to vote in the primary election, which is set for Tuesday, August 18, you must be registered by Monday, July 20. In order to vote in the general election, set for Tuesday, November 3, you must be registered by Monday, October 5.

When you register, you are asked to select a party. The parties are Republican. Democrat or No Party Affiliation. You can also register as a member of a minor political party such as the Green Party of Florida.

Florida is a closed primary state. This means that for the primary election, your ballot will reflect the party that you have selected. In other words, you vote only for the candidates from your party as well as non-partisan races such as the judge (county and circuit) and school board.

In the general election, your ballot is based upon where you reside. You can view sample ballots for both the primary and the general election by visiting www.votehillsborough.org.

“Many people are focused on the upcoming general election in November, but please do not ignore the primary election. We have local school board and judge races on the primary ballot that are non-partisan, so everyone votes in these races. If you are a Democrat or Republican, you will also have a say in which state and local partisan candidate moves on to the general election,” said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer.

VOTE BY MAIL

Vote By Mail is the most convenient method. You do not need an excuse to choose this option. If you request this method, you will receive your ballot in the mail (by Thursday, July 9 for the primary election and by Thursday, September 24 for the general election), and you can take your time making your voting decision.

The Vote By Mail ballot must be received by the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can mail it or drop it off in person at one of its offices or at an Early Voting site. The Supervisor of Elections is also offering curbside drop-off this year.

You can request your Vote By Mail ballot and track its delivery by visiting www.votehillsborough.org.

“Election Day is your last day to vote, not your first. I encourage everyone to consider voting by mail. During the March election, it was heartbreaking to get calls from voters who could not leave home and had planned to vote on Election Day,” said Latimer.

EARLY VOTING

Early Voting is set up before both the primary election and the general election. Early Voting will take place from Monday, August 3 through Sunday, August 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For the general election, it will be from Monday, October 19 through Sunday, November 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“In March, we had 23 Early Voting locations open, and we may have 24 for the August primary. We are just finalizing those details now. We will have drop-off ballot boxes at each of those sites for voters who want to drop off their Vote By Mail ballot,” said Latimer.

Early Voting is just like Election Day voting. You must bring one or two forms of identification with your photo and signature on it. Acceptable forms of identification include a Florida driver’s license, state issued identification, U.S. passport, student ID, public assistance ID and more.

ELECTION DAY VOTING

Polling places or precincts, noted on your voter registration card, are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. You can bring your sample ballot with you and use it while you vote.

Latimer said, “We are taking great measures to ensure a safe and healthy in-person voting experience.”

Social distancing and hand sanitizing as well as adjusted layouts will be utilized.

According to Latimer, “All of this will mean that in-person voting is going to be slower than in the past, but it will be healthy and orderly.”

Whichever method you choose, remember that your vote counts. For more information, please visit www.votehillsborough.org.