How The Closed Primary System Works In Florida


Monday, July 20th, is the deadline to register to vote for Florida’s August 18th primaries. Recently, I had several listeners ask questions pertaining to the way Florida’s primaries work. With many new South Floridians since the previous election cycle and many first-time voters engaging in the political process, I wanted to address how Florida’s primary elections work. It can be confusing.

Florida operates on a closed primary system. This means one must be registered in a political party to vote in partisan contests and you may only vote for the political party with which you’re registered. This means that Monday is also the deadline if you’d like to reregister in a political party for the purpose of voting in partisan races for Florida’s primary elections. At the same time, this doesn’t mean NPA’s, or non-party affiliated voters, don’t have an opportunity to vote. Any election which isn’t contested on the general election ballot in November and any local non-partisan races are also included. For example, in Palm Beach County the election for Supervisor of Elections and Judicial races will be decided by all voters regardless of party.

If you genuinely don’t lean towards any political party, registering as an NPA may truly suit you best. However, if you tend to lean towards a particular political party but don’t always identify with that party, I still recommend registering for that party. It provides the most options for you to vote and help shape elective offices and it could save you having to re-register in the future in that party if there’s a particular partisan candidate you’d like to vote for in future primaries. For example, we had many re-registrations of NPA’s in 2016 who wanted to vote in the Republican Presidential Primary and many this year who wanted to vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary. You can always choose not to vote in a particular race on your ballot if you’re not compelled by any of the candidates.

Hopefully, this is helpful and happy voting!

Photo by: Getty Images


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