It’s back: election season is upon us and for self-advocates, it means we have the opportunity to make our voices heard at the ballot box later this year.
Read on for the most up-to-date information on Florida elections this year so that you can exercise your fundamental right to vote more effectively. Although the 2022 election is a mid-term election -- which is the general election in between presidential elections --it is still essential. This article will provide you with important dates to remember. It will also outline changes critical to voting districts since the 2020 election. Finally, we highlight several vital races that each registered Floridian can vote in.
To begin, there is a list of important dates to remember in the box below. Note that if you want to vote in Florida’s August primaries and some local elections in your areas, you need to register pretty quickly—by July 25. Florida’s primaries are referred to as “closed.” Meaning you must designate a political party affiliation when you register in order to vote in that party’s primary.
New procedures for mail-in ballots are in force and those who use these ballots should be sure to check their county supervisor of elections (SOE) office to make sure they know when and how to request and submit their ballots. Generally, mail-in ballots must be requested no later than 10 days before an election (but always double-check with your county SOE). You can access each county’s SOE here. Your county SOE office can also serve as a jumping off point to learn what local races are occurring in your county or city.
Along with these important dates, there are other things to consider in the 2022 election cycle. Some of Florida’s state legislative and congressional districts have changed since the last general election due to the 2020 U.S. Census. For example, according to “The West Volusia Beacon,” districts such as state Senate District 7 were “trimmed down during the redistricting process.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis’s veto of the Florida Legislature’s first redrawing of U.S. House of Representative districts and subsequent passage of a new map made national headlines in April. To avoid any confusion, again, please consult your county’s supervisor of elections. As of the publishing of this story we could not verify that state or federal maps on websites or address look-up tools have been updated. Some of you may have already received an updated voter registration card with your new voting districts listed.
The above information is only one piece of the puzzle –Floridians have several elections to vote in this year. All seats in both chambers of the Florida Legislature – senators and representatives -- are up for election in 2022. At the national level, all U.S. House of Representatives members are elected every two years in each general election. However, U.S. Senators serve six-year terms so roughly only one-third of them are elected in each general election. One of Florida's U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio (Republican), is up for re-election without any primary challengers. His Democratic challenger will be chosen in the August 23 primary. The frontrunner of Democrats running against Rubio thus far is U.S. Rep. Val Demings from Orlando.
Also, it is important to mention that Gov. DeSantis has just launched his re-election campaign. As of this writing, the two frontrunner Democratic challengers are Florida Agriculture Secretary, Nikki Fried, and former Florida governor and U.S. Rep., Charlie Crist.
Voting is not the only way to be involved in the elections process. Joining with other self-advocates in “get out the vote” efforts is very important in the disability community. Perhaps your self-advocacy group might sponsor a voter education training for people with disabilities in your community. Our voices need to encourage our fellow self-advocates that their voices – and votes – are essential in the electoral process. For more information on how to get involved in this process, be sure to follow Disability Rights Florida’s and Access the Vote Florida’s social media pages -- as well as FSACentral's Facebook page.