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Voting in Florida: Everything You Need to Know

Back in the presidential election of 2000, 537 Florida residents decided the future of the country.

A swing state with a changing demographic make-up, Florida is a key state in the 2016 presidential election, and a perfect example of how every single vote matters in American democracy. Check out why it’s important to vote in Florida and how to do it.

Near Orlando? Global Citizen is coming to celebrate democracy with you on Oct. 3. Find out more here.

Global Citizen Voting Hub

How to Vote in Florida

Early Voting: Early voting starts Oct. 26 in the state, though it varies by county. Get more information here. Any voter registered in Florida can vote early in person before Election Day. Be sure to bring a valid ID that features a photo of you and your signature: Florida driver’s license, Florida ID card, US passport, debit or credit card, military ID, student ID, retirement center ID, neighborhood association ID, public assistance ID, veteran health ID card, license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm, employee ID card issued by the federal government, the state of Florida, or any county or municipality.

Election Day: Vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at your polling location. Have your voice heard!

Make sure you’re registered here.

Why Voting in Florida Matters

Florida gets 29 electoral votes, one of the largest allotments of votes from any state in the country (behind California and Texas, and tied with New York). That makes it one of the most influential states in the country.

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. Florida can help tip the scales in favor of either candidate.

Read More: Why Every Vote Matters: The Closest Elections in the History of the US

How Hurricane Matthew Is Affecting Voting in Florida

As Hurricane Matthew bore down on Florida on Thursday, just five days ahead of the voter registration deadline for this year’s presidential election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign called on the state’s election officials to extend the deadline., They fear that the storm could hamper early voting, which the campaign thinks could be key to a Clinton victory in the state. Campaign manager Robby Mook told Politico he believed early voting in Florida, Nevada and North Carolina could make a pivotal difference in the outcome of the national election.

Gov. Rick Scott said he would not extend the deadline. Other places, like South Carolina, did extend the registration deadline due to the hurricane.

Read More: These Are the People Who Fought Like Hell for Your Right to Vote

Who Does and Doesn’t Vote in Florida’s Elections

  • The Latino Vote: Nearly 5 million Hispanics live in Florida, representing 24.5 percent of the state’s population. And the growing Hispanic population has played an increasingly important role in whether Florida turns blue or red on election night, according to the Pew Research Center. While the Cuban voting bloc has been traditionally Republican, that is shifting, according to Pew, and more Latinos are now registered as Democrat than Republican in the state. In the past two elections, the Hispanic vote and Florida have both been for Democrats.

  • There’s also a big chunk of the population in Florida that can’t vote. About 9% of Florida residents are barred from voting because they have a felony on their criminal records and have not had their voting rights specially restored by the governor.

  • The Census Bureau reports that Florida has a 55% majority of white residents, followed by 24.5% Hispanic residents and nearly 17% of residents who are black. Nearly 20% of Floridians are over the age of 65 and 20% are under 18.

  • About 72% of Florida’s population voted in the 2012 presidential election, which means nearly 30% stayed home. Since that election was decided by less than 1% of voters, the 30% who stayed home could have changed the outcome.

Read More: Why People in the United States Don't Vote

Florida’s Role in US Election History

Florida’s most famous moment in US election history came in 2000. Both George Bush and Al Gore needed Florida’s electoral votes to win, but the results in Florida were too close to call the state one way or another. A recount dragged on for a month and went to the US Supreme Court. George W. Bush had 537 more votes in Florida than Al Gore, and therefore won the state and the presidential election, forever shaping US history.

But Florida has been important in almost all of the recent presidential elections. Its ability to flip either red or blue has made it important for all campaigns. Republican George Bush won the state handily in 2004 over Democrat John Kerry, but Democrat Barack Obama won Florida over both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

In the 2012 election, Florida was decided by less than 1% of its voters, with Obama winning 50% of the vote and Romney winning 49.1% of the vote.

Voting in Florida really, truly matters. Register today.