The primary election precedes the November General Election and is the nominating process by which the political parties choose their preferred candidates to fill national, state, multicounty, county or district offices, and where all voters, regardless of party affiliation, vote for nonpartisan offices and in universal primary contests.
Closed Primary Election
Florida is a closed primary state. This means only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates or nominees in a primary election, including a presidential preference primary election. A person can register with a party or change his or her party affiliation any time, but to vote for a party candidate in a primary election, one must be registered with the party before the voter registration deadline, which is the 29th day before an election. Once the registration books are closed for an election, new registrations and party changes will be accepted but only for the purpose of future elections. See section 97.055, F.S.
There are, however, exceptions to the closed primary rule. These include:
Nonpartisan Races and Questions
When races for nonpartisan judicial and school board offices, nonpartisan special districts or local referendum questions are on the primary election ballot, then all registered voters, including those with minor or no party affiliation, are eligible to vote those races on the ballot.
Universal Primary Contest
When all the candidates for an office in a primary election are of the same party and the winner of the primary will have no opposition in the general election, all electors, regardless of party affiliation, are eligible to vote in the primary for that office. This is called a universal primary contest.
Presidential Preference Primary
The Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) is part of the presidential nominating process for Florida's two major political parties and is a closed primary. Voters registered with one of the two major parties -- the Florida Democratic Party (DEM) and the Republican Party of Florida (REP) -- may vote in their respective primary for the candidate of their choice to represent their party in the General Election in November. Florida's presidential preference primary is held on the third Tuesday in March in a presidential election year.
Note: Local nonpartisan elections may be held at the same time as the PPP. All eligible voters can vote in those local elections.