Looking for the election results? Welcome to the party. We’re still waiting for the final word on a few races, and you can join us in anticipation by following along here.
We want you to be ready to cast your ballot with all the confidence in the world, so we’re breaking down all the 2020 election must-knows for you. In Florida, you’ll be voting for Representatives in Congress, State Representatives, and of course, the President of the United States. There are several ballot measures this year — AKA state amendments — and our local election will take place in 2021.
In this guide, you’ll find registration + polling information, maps of local voting districts, a breakdown of candidate priorities, a timeline of important dates, and an election dictionary of terms you should know.
Basically, if you have a question about the upcoming election, this is your resource. So go ahead and bookmark it, and as always, reach out to us if you have any questions we didn’t answer.
Head to the polls
Not sure if you’re registered to vote? Check here.
Need to register? Learn how to do that here. Note: You have until Oct. 5 to register.
Need a mail-in-ballot? Read all about how to get one here.
Waiting until election day? Polls will be open from 7 a.m.–7 p.m. If you’re in line by 7 p.m., you will be able to vote. Note: Early voting polling places may be different from voting day polling places. Find your polling place here.
Looking for COVID-19 safety information? More information from the election commision to come. Here are some safety tips from the CDC.
Candidates by district
Raise your hand if you’re a visual learner. 🙋♀️ To determine your districts, check out the maps + resources below, then use your districts to identify your candidates.
You can also identify your voting districts by checking your voter registration status or sample ballot. Find information on how congressional and state legislative district boundaries are established here.
Florida US Congressional districts
Florida House districts
FLHouse statewide districts map | Map from myfloridahouse.gov
Florida Senate districts
FL Senate statewide districts map | Map from flsenate.gov
Polk County political districts
Since you probably already know about the presidential candidates, we’re focusing on what you need to know on a local level. Keep reading for a rundown of candidates. To identify candidate priorities, we relied on verified candidate questionnaires submitted to the nonpartisan site Ballotpedia + issues listed directly on candidate websites. #ProTip: Print this list, identify your candidates and take it with you to the polls.
If you are a candidate mentioned in this guide and you would like to clarify the priorities identified for your campaign, please let us know.
Joe Biden — Democrat
You can find his profile and priorities here. Vice presidential candidate: Kamala Harris
Don Blankenship — Constitution
You can find his profile and priorities here. Vice presidential candidate: William Mohr
Howie Hawkins — Green Party
You can find his profile and priorities here. Vice presidential candidate: Angela Nicole Walker
Jo Jorgenson — Libertarian
You can find her profile and priorities here. Vice presidential candidate: Spike Cohen
Donald Trump (incumbent) — Republican
You can find his profile and priorities here. Vice presidential candidate: Mike Pence
Representatives in Congress, District 9
Darren Soto (incumbent) — Democrat | Priorities: agriculture; investing in infrastructure + transportation; working for senior citizens + earned benefits for them; a vested interest in higher-paying jobs; veterans; advocacy for immigrants; the protection of medicare; invest in learning about educational initiatives
William P. “Bill” Olson — Republican | Priorities: reform the VA; national security; economic growth; + fighting radical Islam
Clay Hill (write-in) — Independent | Priorities: No information available.
Representative in Congress, District 15
Scott Franklin — Republican | Priorities: Defend the second amendment; secure U.S. borders; + supports pro-life advocacy
Alan Cohn — Democrat | Priorities: Establishing an economy beneficial to the middle + working-class; confronting political corruptness; + advocating for veterans
Representatives in Congress, District 17
Allen Ellison — Democrat | Priorities: Supporting small businesses; Universal Healthcare; veteran advocacy; + gun safety
Greg Steube (incumbent) — Republican | Priorities: Supporting American businesses; veteran advocacy; securing the future of energy; support of the second amendment
Theodore Murray — Independent | Priorities: No information available.
State Representative, District 39
Chris Cause — Democrat | Priorities: Improve traffic safety, especially on I-4; expansion of Medicaid; public education advocacy; fight for representation +equality within the District; funding farming in Davenport, Auburndale, and ChampionsGate; economic upward mobility; affordable housing; advocate for safety within the community; + increase sustainability public transportation
Josie Tomkow (incumbent) — Republican | Priorities: Economic growth; protecting Florida’s youth; investing in both teachers + their classrooms; bettering healthcare’s accessibility/affordability; maintaining government accountability
State Representative, District 40
Colleen Burton — Republican | Priorities: Expanding healthcare for families; economic + job growth; low taxes; pro-life + second amendment; childhood education
Jan Barrow — Democrat | Priorities: Statewide unemployment; job stability; education; Florida’s environment + water; elder/senior citizen care
Emily Michie — Independent | Priorities: Legalization of recreational marijuana; prioritizing both teachers + students; expanding financial literacy; support local
State Representative, District 41
Sam Killebrew (incumbent) — Republican | Affiliations: Veterans and Military Families Caucus, Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, Polk County Sheriff’s Advisory Council, Dundee Chamber of Commerce, Haines City Chamber of Commerce, Lake Alfred Chamber of Commerce
Jared West — Democrat | Priorities: Supports public education; expanding Medicare in Florida; affordable housing; increase in minimum wage $15.00; improving public transportation
State Representative, District 42
Barbara Cady — Democrat | Priorities: Public representation/service; veteran healthcare; affordable healthcare; reproductive justice for women; ally to the LGBTQ+ community
Fred Hawkins — Republican | Priorities: Education; lowering the cost of healthcare; bettering local transportation; the conservation of natural resources; ensuring high water quality
Leroy Sanchez — Independent | Priorities: No information available.
State Representative, District 56
Melony Bell (incumbent) — Republican | Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Finance Committee, George W. Harris Youth Shelter, Heartland Vision, Legislative Liaison, Polk Vision, Tourist Development Council, TDC Arts, Culture & Heritage Committee, Transportation Planning Organization
James Davis — Democrat | Priorities: Healthcare; economic development; criminal justice reform; environmental justice
Justice of the Supreme Court
Justice Carlos G. Muñiz — Voting for Justice Muñiz on ballots includes a yes/no response. There will not be another Justice to vote for or against on Nov. 3.
County Commissioner, District 3
Bill Braswell — Republican | Priorities: Focus on issues veterans face; find the balance between planning + development; confront water issues in Polk County
Bob Doyel — Democrat | Priorities: Approach the pandemic with both date + science; conservation within Polk County; affordable transportation; limiting big developers
District Court of Appeal – Second District
Judge J. Andrew Atkinson –– Nonpartisan | member of the William Reece Smith, Jr., Litigation Inn of Court
Morris Silberman –– Nonpartisan | Chairman of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors, two terms on the Executive Committee, chaired the Budget Committee + the Election Reform Special Committee, President of the Clearwater Bar Association
Daniel H. Sleet –– Nonpartisan | American Board of Trial Advocates, Jurist of the Year by the Tampa Bay ABOTA Chapter, president of the Tampa Bay ABOTA Chapter, Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at Stetson University College of Law for seven years, Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at the University of Tampa
Andrea Teves Smith –– Nonpartisan | Member of the Lakeland Bar Association, Polk Association of Women Lawyers, and Willson American Inn of Court, member of the Federal Bar Association, legal advisory board member of Florida Southern College
Understanding the amendments
We’re here to help you cut through those “extra big words,” and just tell you exactly what these amendments you’re voting on mean.
Amendment 1: Citizen Requirement for voting | ✅ Voting “yes” for this amendment would mean that you support changing the language in the FL constitution to read that “only a citizen” of the US (18 years+) can vote in Florida. ❎ Voting “no” for this amendment would mean that you do not want to change this language, and want to keep the current language that states that “every citizen” of the US (18 years+) can vote in Florida.
Amendment 2: Increasing the Minimum Wage by $15 | ✅ Voting “yes” for this amendment would mean that you support raising the minimum wage, incrementally, until reaching $15 by 2026. ❎ Voting “no” for this amendment would mean that you do not support raising the minimum wage, keeping it at the current wage of $8.56.
Amendment 3: Top-Two Open Primaries | ✅ Voting “yes” for this amendment would mean that you support FL establishing a top-two open primary system for state offices in the primary elections. ❎ Voting “no” for this amendment would mean that you do not support FL establishing a top-two open primary system for state offices in the primary elections + want FL to keep its current system (closed primaries are held by each party).
Amendment 4: Requires Constitutional Amendments to be passed twice | ✅ Voting “yes” for this amendment would mean that you support FL requiring approval of amendments twice by voters for a second general election to be effective. ❎ Voting “no” for this amendment would mean that you do not support FL requiring approval of amendments twice by voters for a second general election to be effective and prefer that FL keep its current process for amendments (collecting signatures once, with a majority of voters passing it the first time).
Amendment 5: Florida Extend “Save Our Homes” Portability Period | ✅ Voting “yes” for this amendment would mean that you support FL establishing a longer period for the “Save Our Homes” benefit from two to three years. ❎ Voting “no” for this amendment would mean that you do not support FL establishing a longer period for the “Save Our Homes” benefit + want FL to keep its current system (of two years).
Amendment 6: Homestead Property Tax Discount for Spouses of Deceased Veterans | ✅ Voting “yes” for this amendment would mean that you support FL allowing homestead property tax discounts of deceased veterans to go to their spouses. ❎ Voting “no” for this amendment would mean that you do support FL allowing homestead property tax discounts of deceased veterans to go to their spouses + want FL to keep its current system (when a veteran passes, their homestead property discount is gone).
Referendum 1. Article VII, Section 3: Extending Limited Property Tax Exemptions for New Jobs | Shall the board of Polk County Commissioners be reauthorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, limited property tax exemptions, for a period of time, to new businesses + expansions of existing businesses that create new, full‐time jobs in the county? The time period for such reauthorization would commence Nov. 6, 2022 and expire on Nov. 5, 2032.
No. 1 Amendment, Section 8.3.1 | Expense Reduction (Charter Review) | If this amendment is adopted, expenses to Polk County will be reduced by increasing the time between Charter Review Commissions from every 8 years to every 12 years.
No. 2 Amendment, Articles 8.6 through 8.6.4, Section 6.3 | Expense Reduction (Efficiency Commission) | If this amendment is adopted, expenses to Polk County will be reduced by deleting Articles 8.6 through 8.6.4 in their entirety of the County Charter as it relates to the Polk County Efficiency Commission.
General Election timeline
Mark your calendars. 🗓️ Find all of your General Election voting dates + deadlines listed below.
Sep. 22: National Voter Registration Day
Oct. 24: National Vote Early Day
Nov. 3: Election Day
Nov. 4: Preliminary results expected; certified results could take longer.
- Oct. 5: Voter registration deadline
- Oct. 24: Early voting available, 8 a.m. EDT (In Polk County, early voting will take place Oct. 19-31.)
- Oct. 24: Vote-by-Mail ballot request deadline, post received by 5 p.m. EDT
- Oct. 31: Early voting ends, 5 p.m. EDT
- Nov. 3: Vote-by-Mail ballot return deadline, 7 p.m. EST
- Note: Additional days of early voting may be available in other FL counties. DOS website says to check with the county Supervisor of Elections.
As we get deeper into the election cycle, there’s a lot of terminologies circulating out there, and we want to make sure you have a (somewhat) comprehensive resource to help you discern some meaning from it all. We give you LALtoday’s election dictionary — or, if you’ll indulge us, our electionary. If we missed a word or phrase you’ve been wondering about, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments section to let us know. Source: Votesmart.org
Absentee voting — Similar to mail-in voting, this process allows voters to submit their ballot through the mail or in-person, without going to the polls on Election Day. In 2016, the FL legislature changed the terminology from “absentee voting” to “vote-by-mail.”
Bond — A debt security issued by a local, state, or national government to support spending toward specific government programs or obligations. Often requires constituent support and appears on ballots for voter determination.
Certified results — The final and official results of an election, as verified by the local elections office. These results confirm that all ballots have been counted.
Citizen — Any person who is a legally-recognized member of a locality, state, or country. Except under exclusionary circumstances, all citizens have the right to exercise their vote.
Congressional districts — The US is divided into 435 jurisdictions for the purposes of electing members to the House of Representatives in Congress. Each district is meant to be proportionately sized for its resident population.
Constituents — The voters within a specific locality or district; the people elected officials represent.
Electoral College — The voters of each state that formally elect the United States President and Vice President. Each state has as many electoral college votes as it does U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators in Congress combined.
General election — A regular election between candidates of multiple parties, as opposed to a primary election where the candidates are within the same political party.
House of Representatives — One of two houses within the federal branch of government called Congress. Each state has representatives based on its population.
Incumbent — If a candidate running for election is also the current seat-holder for that position, they are called the incumbent.
Mail-in ballot — An official ballot that is submitted to the local elections board by mail instead of in-person at a designated polling place.
Polling place — A designated location where voters cast their ballots in-person on Election Day or during an early voting period.
Popular vote — The raw number of votes cast by individual voters within a locality, state, or country. Within the US system of voting, the popular vote can differ from the deciding votes of the Electoral College.
Preliminary results — The projected or anticipated results of an election, usually announced when the majority of districts are reporting. These results are not definitive and can change as ballots continue to be processed and counted on or after Election Day.
Referendum — The legal process of submitting to the voters for their approval or rejection of proposed state or rejection of proposed state of local laws or constitutional amendments.
Senate — One of two houses within the federal branch of government called Congress. Each state has two senators.
Swing state — Any US state where the level of support for two major political parties is considered to be fairly equal on both sides.
Unaffiliated voters — Voters who are not registered to vote with a specific political party are called unaffiliated.
Voter turnout — The percentage of registered, eligible voters within a locality who cast a ballot during any given election.
This is part of our ongoing election coverage. You can learn more about our Editorial Ethics Policy and how we prioritize information regarding the upcoming elections here.