By: María Alejandra Pulgar
Did you know 2022 is Midterm Election year?
If you were in the process of becoming an American citizen during these crazy pandemic years, chances are you missed the cut to vote in the General Elections in 2020. Do not despair; you can still make a huge impact registering to vote next year in the Midterm Elections.
There will be very important races in Florida next year: US Senator Marco Rubio completes his term, as well as Governor Ron DeSantis and other State officials. In Doral, three positions will be up for grabs: Seat 2, Seat 4 and the Mayoral Seat, as the Mayor has recently announced he will run for County Commissioner for District 12.
It is still early to talk about the candidates, or who will run against the incumbents, but it is never too soon for people to learn and understand the process, or to encourage citizens to be active participants for the sake of the country.
It is worth making a New Year’s Resolution of becoming a more active and involved citizen next year; one who gets informed and votes in the Midterm elections, which generally have a low turn out at the polls.
Why it is important to vote in the Midterms?
The system of checks and balances in government is crucial for the stability of the country. Midterm elections provide the population, halfway into a presidential period, with a chance to fine-tune their influence in the way decisions are made in Congress, by electing those Senators and Representatives who will better support their values, interests and needs by creating legislations that balance out the decisions made by the Executive or Judicial branches.
In Florida, there will be the gubernatorial race, as well as one of the Senators to the US Congress. Those choices are important as they influence the way the State will interact with the Federal government on several instances such as federal funding or support in case of emergencies, to name a few. There will also be several races on other State positions and at the State Congress, and Miami-Dade County level, which will have greater local influence on decisions that impact all the state population.
It is vital that electors know and trust the people they will choose as Governor and as senators and representatives to the State Legislature. They will be the voice of their districts at the state capital, and putting knowledgeable, enthusiastic, honest, and informed people in those positions will ensure they will be vigilant of the interest of their constituents.
When people disregard their participation in the elections, especially in the midterms, they are forfeiting their right to choose and allowing a small group to make decisions that will impact the quality of life for at least the next four years. Moreover, when there are referendums of amendments or important decisions included on the election ballots and people do not vote, they are allowing others to choose for them. Why would someone in their right mind do that? Many of us have left our countries of origin looking for a place where our opinions are taken into consideration. Why would you not voice your opinion if you are given the chance?
Register, Inform Yourself, Vote
The most important step is registering to vote. It is something very easy to do, and can even be done online at RegistertoVoteFlorida.gov
Florida is a Closed Primary Election state, which means that to vote on the primary elections you should be registered as a member of that party. However, sometimes in the primaries there are other races in the same ballot, so electors are encouraged to always verify online the ballot that corresponds to their voting district to make sure they are not missing out on giving their opinion for issues that are important for them.
Primary elections next year will be on August 23, 2022, with a registration deadline of July 25th. Midterm Elections will take place on November 8th, 2022, with a registration deadline of October 11th.
Once a person has registered to vote, does not need to register again, unless there is need to update the address or party affiliation. In Florida is possible to request absentee ballots to vote by mail, which is very convenient for the sick, elderly or disabled, who have difficulty to approach the precincts, or when the ballot is long and requires extra attention to fill it properly.
It is also possible to vote early, a couple of weeks before election day the Elections Department opens voting locations for those who prefer to avoid longer lines, or cannot attend on Election Day, which always fall on a Tuesday.
However, local races are non-partisan. That means that the party where the candidate is registered does not have any influence whatsoever on the decisions of the office they are pursuing; an example of non-partisan offices are those in Miami-Dade County or in the Doral Council. Therefore electors should not take party affiliation into consideration when choosing the right person for those local offices.
Beyond registering or deciding the method for voting, electors must always dedicate time to research the candidates in the ballot, their strengths, and qualifications; experience relevant to the office they are aspiring; records of participation and community involvement in public service or private office; position on important issues, leadership abilities; honesty and good character, moral and values. An educated and informed voter will be capable to make decisions that benefit the community, not only for solving current issues but also to build a better future for all citizens.
All the details of procedures to verify voting registration, requesting absentee ballots or finding out early voting locations is provided on https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/ and for more information on the upcoming primary and midterm elections in Miami-Dade County at http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/