By Kailynn Bannon | Oct. 25, 2022
Voters across the U.S. are preparing to cast their votes in the midterm elections on Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. These elections are on a federal, state and local level and are open to any registered voter regardless of party affiliation.
Midterm elections take place two years into a president’s term. The two chambers of the U.S. Congress are in focus in these elections – a third of the 100 U.S. Senators and all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives get elected each midterm and presidential election. Midterm elections are seen as so important because the party that has majority in Congress will often determine if the President’s agenda is fulfilled or fought against.
Polk County ballots will consist of several district races including the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Governor, state Legislature, state Supreme Court, district Court of Appeals, municipal government, school boards and ballot initiatives.
Voting can be done one of three ways – early in person at certain locations, by mail-in-ballots and in person at a local precinct on election day.
For those in Polk County that cannot make it to the polls on Election Day, early voting will take place from Oct. 24 to Nov. 5, at nine different early voting sites. These sites are located in Bartow, Davenport, Haines City, Lakeland, Lake Wales, Mulberry, Poinciana and Winter Haven.
Those who vote by mail must request their ballots by Oct. 29. Mail-in ballots can be requested by contacting the Supervisor of Elections by mail, phone or in person. Voters have until Election Day to pick up a mail-in ballot or have it delivered.
For those voting in person on Election Day, precinct and voting locations can be found on Voter Information Cards, or by calling (863) 534-5888. Voters must bring a form of photo ID with them to the polls.
Florida’s gubernatorial election will be between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Charlie Crist.
DeSantis took the oath of office as Florida’s 46th governor on Jan. 8, 2019. His current term ends Jan 3, 2023, however he is running again for the midterm elections.
One of the main focuses of the DeSantis campaign is implementing family-focused restrictions on issues such as the education system and women’s rights. He has restricted education systems from instructing on sexual orientation and gender ideology for kindergarten through 3rd grade, along with banning the use of “Critical Race Theory (CRT)” in classrooms.
He also signed legislation prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis refused to enact several mandates and shutdowns that were put into effect in other states. By putting $363 million into affordable housing initiatives, he is working towards making housing more affordable for the labor force.
Crist served as Florida’s 44th governor from 2007 to 2011. Claiming that his core beliefs no longer aligned with the party, Crist left the Republican Party to join the Democratic Party in 2012. He recently served as a U.S. representative from Florida’s 13th congressional district from 2017 to 2022.
A major focus of Crist’s campaign is advocating the use of solar energy. His “Million Solar Roofs” plan aims to provide more low-cost, renewable energy options for families and small businesses looking into solar roofing.
Another plan Crist proposed “Affordable Florida for All” promises to work towards lowering the cost of housing for renters and buyers across the Sunshine State, along with fighting for more affordable homeowner and car insurance.
His campaign also focuses on fighting for the right for women to make their own decisions about their bodies, calling for the complete legalization of marijuana and enacting stronger gun safety laws.
In May 2021, DeSantis put restrictions for casting ballots into law, which will affect this year’s general elections. This ruling limits the number of drop boxes, prohibits items such as food and water from being handed out to those in line and prevents voters from possessing more than two ballots at a time.
Expansions to voting access were implemented in three Florida counties that were extremely affected by the destruction of Hurricane Ian. The three counties – Lee, Sarasota and Charlotte – are now able to vote starting Oct. 24 up until Election Day, and are permitted to consolidate the few remaining polling sites that were not destroyed by the hurricane to create “super polling” centers.