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It's Election Day: Here's how to vote in Florida's 20th Congressional District special primary election

Candidates vying to fill vacant seat once occupied by late Alcee Hastings
'Vote Here' signs stacked in front of each other at Palm Beach County tabulation center
Posted at 8:02 AM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 08:02:03-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Voting is now open in the special primary election to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

Democratic and Republican registered voters living in Florida's 20th Congressional District will pick their candidates to represent their respective parties in the special general election.

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

Alcee Hastings in December 2019
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., speaks during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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.

Where do I go to vote?

On Election Day, voters must cast their ballots at their assigned precincts. This is different than during the early voting period, when registered voters can cast their ballots at any designated early voting location.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections building

To find your assigned precinct in Broward County, click here.

If you are a Palm Beach County voter, click here to find your designated precinct.

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: 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

'Insert Ballots Here' message on Palm Beach County ballot box

Tuesday, Nov. 2: District 20 primary election
Tuesday, Jan. 11: District 20 general election

Early Voting Dates

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