Your county Supervisors of Elections should have listings of the nearest Early Voting polls. As I am in Polk County I will list ours.
Remember, Florida is one of the repressive states, so they'll need Photo ID as well as your Voter ID (and maybe DNA samples so bring a vial of blood just in case).
Florida is also a Closed Primary: you gotta be with a Party hosting a ballot to vote for it. So if you're like me - NPA No Party Affiliate - you've got nobody for the Presidential race to vote for. HOWEVER, be aware some cities and towns will host local votes for their own officials during this (most others will do so April 15th, so stay tuned for that) vote, so pay attention! Local elections matter too (Bartow in particular has one candidate who keeps running every election because he wants to go in and close every city office - from Parks to Libraries to Fire Department - down).
On the Primary day itself - March 15th! - be prepared to find your local precinct to vote, because the rules are strict about it: you gotta poll where they tell you to poll (Early Voting and Absentee Ballot Mail-Ins are exempt).
And so the seven readers of this blog are likely to ask "Gee Paul, I'm still kinda in the dark about who to vote for, so what's the sane choices for each party?"
You're asking ME (always sober, never sane) for tips? Aheh. I know up front the Republican/Conservative readers trolling this blog - hi, older brother! - will call me out on my hyperbolic conniption over how bad the remaining GOP field is, and I also know I'll get critics from the Democratic/Liberal readers if I don't back their horse 100 percent. Still, I will try to explain my arguments as clear and effective as possible.
For the Democratic ballot, there's the choice between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley (he had filed before dropping out). So there's always a possibility of an O'Malley upset (stop hitting me). Seriously, there is a choice here between the Centrist Hillary and the Socialist Bernie. The fighting between the two factions backing both have gotten heated, so I'm bound to offend when I say: If I had to, I would vote for Hillary.
My arguments for Hillary come around to these points. She is experienced as both a legislator - twice elected Senator - and as administrator - serving as Secretary of State. For all the horror stories and hatred she receives - regarding her secrecy, her ambitions for higher office - I think her years of service have mellowed her. While I've cataloged her as an Active-Negative personality, that Aggressive side of her world-view to get things done may be key to breaking any Congressional opposition if the Republicans retain control of that branch (Obama's greatest flaw has been - until this last year when he no longer needs to deal - too sincere a need to get bipartisan work done, which allowed far too much obstruction to stall our public sector).
The Bernie backers - if any show up here - are likely going to rip me apart for ignoring Sanders' True Leftist bona fides. Please remember, I view myself at heart a Moderate: my Progressive leanings only lean so far. I respect Sanders' arguments against the Big Banks and I know damn well income inequality is a serious problem. And I know Universal Health Care is where our nation needs to go for our basic health care spending and costs to be better controlled. However, I worry about Sanders' numbers regarding his health care proposal: the math isn't working. There's every likelihood implementing such a massive shift in policy and costs will raise taxes higher than most Americans are willing to pay. And a sudden shift from one system to another will be difficult to pull off, creating more costs and damage to the health care infrastructure our nation can't afford at the moment. We just started ObamaCare, and need to give it a few more years of reducing the costs and increasing insured enrollees - and getting Red States to swallow their pride and accept Medicaid funding - to show that a regulated market system can be effective and expanded upon.
I know there's one big argument against Hillary: her controversies. A good number of Bernie supporters - and far too many fence-sitters - are worried about Hillary being a big target for scandals that could hurt her in the general election. Here's the thing: many of those "scandals" are mythical BS stories that have been dumped on her for 20-plus years by a proven faction of Far Right wingnuts who fear her more than even her husband Bill (and he's been President). Even the current "big" scandals surrounding Benghazi and her private email server... are turning out to be overblown, manufactured affairs.
Here's the thing: that damn Far Right Noise Machine is going to screech and throw fits at the Democratic nominee no matter who it is: Look at how they shredded John Kerry with BS stories. The wingnuts are going to attack Bernie for being a Secret Commie traitor as much as they'll go after Hillary for being a witch (NI!). I don't even count the possibility of a breaking scandal to hit or hurt Hillary in any way. Hell, I view it as a plus now: If Hillary has truly been this evil, this manipulative, all these years with a body count to rival Stalin's... and her attackers STILL haven't found any evidence that will stick in a court of law, then she's got the competency and Machiavellian skills to lead our nation.
Now, to the other side.
For the Republican ballot, it's still stuffed with the names of most of the candidates from January, meaning a lot of dropped candidates to disregard. Unless, if you like, you want to vote for Lindsey Graham bwhahahahahahahHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. :) Ahem. Okay. As of right now, the serious names to consider are Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump (Ben Carson has suspended his campaign but not officially ended it, but he's pretty much done).
I admit I am not a fan of any of them. My apostasy for the current mindset of the Republicans has me in a foul mood towards the whole party, so I know I'd be making a bad decision no matter what. If I had a choice on the ballot I'd fill in None of the Above on a blank space. If you put a gun to my head and demanded I make a choice... I still wouldn't, because you're making me choose either a quick death or slow death.
There are degrees of unlikable factors for me regarding each candidate.
Topping the list is Trump. I've got it as a Label hashtag: Trump Is a Con Artist. Of the remaining candidates, he is the one lacking any elective or political experience at all. To me as a Moderate that alone is a disqualifier: I want someone with experience and competency. Making him even worse has been his blatant racism against Mexicans, Muslims, Mandarins, and other Minorities. His statements are disprovable to the point of being lies. His attitude and willful ignorance are horrifying to see in someone positioning himself to represent this nation to the rest of the world. He's a bankrupting opportunist who cuts and runs the second he's not making any money on anything. Trump IS a con artist, whose con is selling himself and nothing else. In all seriousness, for the Love of God, DO NOT VOTE TRUMP.
The next scarier candidate for me is Rubio, in that he's the hometown "favorite son". Florida is his home base - as it was for Jeb? - and Rubio has got to be counting a lot on the local voters keen on having a Florida boy win the nomination. I know my brother - having lost Christie to support - was in a toss-up between Jeb and Marco a few weeks ago and with Jeb dropped out it likely means my kin is voting Rubio.
I wouldn't. Not on sentiment, and certainly not on Rubio's (lack of a) resume.
Whatever charm Rubio has to make the Beltway mainstream media treat him like a winner, he doesn't have it when it comes time to impress voters. He's flat, bland, or at worst robotic: Getting caught mimicking his speech cues as debate answers was a devastating blow to him. There's a reason Rubio is THIRD PLACE, people...
As for his record, his state legislative history is one of a hard-core Far Right Republican with little of a moderating, bipartisan stance. He won the Senate seat in a three-way race where the Democrat and Independent knocked each other out instead of him. And as a Senator, he did more grandstanding than he did any actual work. The one piece of legislation he IS known for - trying to set an Immigration Reform package that his own party quickly scuttled because their own wingnut base HATED IT - is one he dropped like a hot potato and fled from in horror, which doesn't impress a damn soul. He lacked the courage of any conviction there, save for his own future plans to run for President.
Anyone who thinks Rubio can appeal to a general electorate is overlooking the facts that Rubio has no solid record that moderates would respect, that Rubio is fully on-board with a Republican platform that is far more extreme Right than anything pitched since
If any thought comforts me, it's the knowledge that if Rubio can't win Florida - which is Winner-Take-All - he's doomed to lose the delegate count. The polling tells us Rubio is almost half the percentages behind Trump, which is good except for the fact that Trump is leading WHICH IS BAD.
And then there's Ted Cruz.
No. Just. No. THAT. Should not happen.
That leaves Kasich as the fourth and final option, and pretty much the only one I would - if I really really really REALLY had to - check on the ballot. And this is me damning him with the faintest praise I can muster.
Where Kasich impresses me is the fact he has the solid resume of experience across the board: years in Congress as well as serving as Governor of a large state of Ohio. He has shown signs of brain activity. Of the remaining Republican candidates, he's the one most likely to actually respect the Federalist system of national governance with its checks and balances, and one who might - maybe - pursue a bipartisan approach to his administration if he ever gets to the White House. Essentially, he's the least-scary guy on the GOP hit list.
This doesn't excuse the scary things about him, though. Kasich is openly anti-abortion, a stance which centrists/moderates view with dismay. He's anti-Union to the point where you can't trust him to push a Jobs Bill agenda this nation STILL sorely needs. And he's still a full backer of the Republican platform of cutting taxes, cutting regulations, and cutting everybody off at the knees who's not already in the One-Percent Club.
So, there's my suggestions for the Closed Primary balloting. Hillary for the Democrats, Kasich for the Republicans, a night-time supply of crafted microbrews for everyone else watching the election results on the eve of March 15th. Oy.