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Voter information guide for special election to fill Alcee Hastings’ seat

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 4:26 PM EDT
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The first of several deadlines in a special election to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., is soon approaching.

Monday marks the deadline for those Palm Beach County or Broward County residents living in Florida's 20th Congressional District to change their party affiliations before the Nov. 2 primary election.

Hastings, who served in the House since 1993, died of pancreatic cancer in April. He was 84.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis set the primary and general election dates for Nov. 2 and Jan. 11, leaving the constituents of this mostly Democratic district without representation in Washington for months.

Am I eligible to vote in the special election?

The short answer is, most likely, yes, provided you meet a few basic requirements and assuming you reside within Florida's 20th Congressional District.

In order to register to vote, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States of America (a lawful permanent resident is not a U.S. citizen for registration and voting purposes);
  • Be a Florida resident;
  • Be at least 18 years old (you may preregister if you are 16 years old);
  • Not now be adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having had your voting rights restored;
  • Not have been convicted of a felony in Florida, or any other state, without your civil rights having been restored;
  • Provide your current and valid Florida driver's license number or Florida identification card number. If you do not have a current and valid Florida driver's license number or Florida identification card, you must provide the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you do not have any of the above, check the appropriate box provided on the voter registration application.

What do I need when I go to vote?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the special and general elections. Any voters waiting in line at 7 p.m. will have the opportunity to cast a ballot.

In order to vote, you must provide a Florida driver's license, identification card, U.S. passport or some other form of photo identification with signature.

Where is Florida's 20th Congressional District?

The district includes portions of Palm Beach and Broward counties. That includes parts of Loxahatchee, Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Lake Park in Palm Beach County and parts of Fort Lauderdale, Miramar and Pompano Beach in Broward County.

Who are the candidates?

A total 11 Democrats and two Republicans -- plus one Libertarian and three independents, one of whom is a write-in candidate -- are seeking to occupy the seat.

Here are the candidates, in alphabetical order by party:

Democrats Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick: CEO of Trinity Health Care Services Elvin Dowling: West Palm Beach native, former aide and longtime mentee of Hastings Bobby DuBose: minority leader in Florida House, representing portions of Broward County Omari Hardy: Florida House District 88, former Lake Worth Beach commissioner Dale Holness: Broward County commissioner, former mayor once endorsed by Hastings Phil Jackson: retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer Emmanuel Morel: former president of Democratic Progressive Caucus of Palm Beach County Barbara Sharief: Broward County commissioner, previously served as first Black mayor Imran Siddiqui: doctor of internal medicine in Broward County Priscilla Taylor: former state legislator, Palm Beach County commissioner and mayor Perry Thurston: Florida Senate District 33, representing portions of Broward County

Republicans Jason Mariner: former drug addict and convict, CEO of AdSkinz Greg Musselwhite: welding inspector who lost to Hastings in 2020 general election

Libertarian Mike ter Maat: Hallandale Beach police officer since 2010

Independents Jim Flynn Leonard Serratore Shelley Fain (write-in)

What is the difference between a primary and general election?

Florida is a closed-primary state, which means that only voters registered within a political party may vote in that party's primary election, unless a universal primary contest occurs. A universal primary contest is when all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election.

That is not the case in this special election, so voters won't be able to cast their ballots for a candidate in another party. For example, a Republican voter can't vote for a Democratic candidate during the primary election and vice versa.

Important Dates

Monday, Oct. 4: Deadline to register for primary election or change party affiliation Monday, Dec. 13: Deadline to register for general election Saturday, Oct. 23: 5 p.m. deadline to request vote-by-mail ballot Tuesday, Nov. 2: 7 p.m. deadline to return vote-by-mail ballot Tuesday, Nov. 2: District 20 primary election Tuesday, Jan. 11: District 20 general election

Early Voting Dates

Saturday, Oct. 23-Sunday, Oct. 31: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (primary election) Saturday, Jan. 1-Sunday, Jan. 9: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (general election)

Early Voting Locations

Palm Beach County Library, Belle Glade Branch 725 NW Fourth St. Belle Glade 33430

Palm Beach County Library, Main Library 3650 Summit Blvd. West Palm Beach 33406

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, West County Branch Office 2976 State Road 15, Second Floor Belle Glade 33430

Palm Beach State College, Loxahatchee Groves Campus 15845 Southern Blvd. Loxahatchee Groves 33470

Wells Recreation & Community Center 2409 Ave. H W. Riviera Beach 33404

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