9 things to know ahead of the November election

ORLANDO, Fla. — The election is right around the corner and there’s a ton of unanswered questions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Here are 9 things you should know ahead of the election:

  • 99 Days, 14 Weekends to go - Time is running out. Sure, as of Monday, July 27, there are just 99 days to go until the November general election, but that’s only 14 weekends, the traditional time when a news cycle resets. While news cycles seem to move faster than ever, the chances for any campaign, not just the presidential race, to change its direction are running out considering one of those weekends will be the long Labor Day weekend when people are not as engaged in news or politics.
  • State of the Race – As of today, the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Joe Biden with a 7.8% lead over President Donald Trump. At this point in 2016, then-candidate Trump held a 0.3% lead over Hillary Clinton in the RCP average of Florida polls. Trump won Florida in 2016 by 1.6%.
  • How Good are the Polls? – In Florida, usually pretty good. We’re a state that gets polled a lot by a lot of various groups. However, of the six polls in the RCP average, only two use “likely voters” with the rest using “registered voters”. Polls tend to switch over to using “likely voters” after Labor Day. “Likely voters” are people with a history of voting who have a high probability of voting, whereas “registered voters” are as the name indicates, people who are registered to vote, but may not vote.

Read: Coronavirus: Where COVID-19 testing is available in Central Florida

  • But First, a Primary - Florida still has not held its primary for most seats yet. The Florida Primary takes place on Aug. 18. That is when each party will pick its candidates for state, federal, and county offices ahead of the November general election. The deadline to register to vote in the Florida Primary has passed, it was July 20.
  • Can I Vote in August? – Maybe. Florida is a closed primary state. If you are not registered as a Democrat or a Republican you cannot vote if the primary race is contested with a candidate from the other party or a write-in candidate.

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  • Can I vote in November? – Yes. You have until Oct 5 to register to vote in the November general election. You do not have to declare a party to vote in November.
  • COVID 19 – There will be changes to the election as a result of COVID-19. Many polling locations may struggle to find workers with some Florida counties perhaps being forced to move or consolidate polling locations. Each party in the state is encouraging its voters to utilize vote by mail as a way to alleviate stress on physical locations while reducing the possible exposure to COVID-19.

Read: Hundreds of Orlando businesses have closed for good due to COVID-19

  • Vote By Mail – In Florida, anyone can request and submit a mail ballot, there is no requirement to show a hardship in order to request a ballot. While both major parties use vote by mail, it is the Florida GOP that has dominated this method in recent years, out voting Democrats in vote by mail in the last two statewide elections; in fact in 2018 President Donald Trump voted by mail from his new home in West Palm Beach.
  • Problems on the Horizon – There is a chance that counting all the mail ballots in Florida as well as other states (about 40 states use some form of mail voting) could take days or weeks. In 2016, California didn’t finish its count until after Thanksgiving. If the presidential race is close, that could mean days or weeks before a winner is declared.

Read: Lawmakers weigh push for more funding for state election preparations during pandemic