Election season enters final week


"Joe Biden" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. "Donald Trump" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Presidential candidates Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D) present their visions for the country.

Election day is November 3. This is the last day to vote. If you turned 18 this year, then this is your first chance to exercise your vote. The following information provides steps on how to vote, along with a summary of each presidential candidate’s stances.

How to Vote: If you requested a ballot through mail by Oct. 24, you can vote by mail, early in person or on election day. On your voter’s registration card, it should indicate your polling location, or where you are zoned to vote. Early in-person voting runs from October 19 to November 1. The last day to vote is on election day, November 3. 

You will need to bring a valid photo ID (ex. driver’s license, passport, student ID, debit or credit card, or any valid ID with a photo).

Vote-by-mail: Once your ballot arrives, read thoroughly and follow the instructions as followed. Make sure to fill out your ballot in pen, and read all the information thoroughly. Fill out and deliver your  ballot as soon as possible to ensure your vote will count, as all ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. You can mail or drop off ballots at the Department of Elections or at an early voting location. You can find where to drop your ballots here.

Early Voting: You can vote early in person until Nov. 1. By voting early, it reduces how long you wait to vote on election day, takes pressure off election day poll workers and gives the potential to increase turnout and expand the electorate. Early voting locations can be found here. 

Now that you know how to make your vote count, the big question is who to vote for. As well as the presidential candidates, you will also have the chance to vote for local elections. For more information on who is running locally, click here to practice voting with a sample ballot.

Here is a look at the presidential Republican candidate Donald Trump and his challenger Democrat Joe Biden and where they stand on key issues:

Criminal Justice: Biden wants abolish capital punishment, end cash bail reform and eliminate private prisons. Trump believes in criminal justice reform and fairer sentencing, and that it is unfair to serve a life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime.

Economy: Biden wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour and indicates support for paid family and sick leave. Trump believes in individual and corporate tax cuts in hopes to increase the standard deduction and family tax credits. 

Education: Biden is opposed to for-profit charter schools; instead, he plans to break up low-performing schools in hopes of helping disadvantaged students. He aims to make community college free for two years and wants to expand or fix existing debt-relief programs and boost teacher pay. Trump wants to cut the Department of Education and abolish Common Core standards. 

Energy and Environment: Biden supports developing new nuclear technologies as part of an effort to fight climate change and wants to end new oil and gas leases on federal land and end offshore drilling. Trump advocates for active forest management and signed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will protect and improve national parks and public lands. 

Gun Safety: Biden supports a voluntary buyback program, is in favor of universal background checks, and a national firearm registry. Trump wants to enforce stronger background checks, believes that mass shooters are due to a huge mental health problem, and favors citizens exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.

Healthcare: Biden wants to instill some limits to abortion but plans to protect women’s rights and keep abortion legal and opposes Medicare for All but would expand coverage. Trump favors stricter regulations on abortion up to an eventual ban. He wants to allow the terminally ill take any experimental drugs and lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs.

Immigration: Biden supports citizenship for Dreamers. Trump rescinded DACA protections and rerouted defense funding to build a wall on the Mexican/U.S. border. Because of the COVID crisis, he has denied immigrants a chance to apply for asylum.

Taxes: Biden wants to increase the capital gains tax rate, and wants to increase existing taxes on upper-income Americans (over $400,000 a year) but give middle-income families tax breaks. Trump believes that cutting corporate taxes will create more jobs.

County issues: Elected officials such as congressional representative, sheriff, state attorney, supervisor of elections, judges and school board members are on the county section of the ballot. If you are an eligible voter, you can fill out your information here to see who the candidates in your county are.

Florida Amendments: Florida voters will fill out a ballot with more than just the presidential candidates, but also county referendums and school board elections as well. Not only this, but there will be six amendments up for vote in order to pass. These amendments are:

  1. Would change the wording of Florida’s constitution. Currently it states “every citizen shall have the right to vote.” It would change the word “every” to “only.”
  2. Would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2021. The wage would then increase $1 a year until it reaches $15 by 2026. 
  3. Would allow all registered voters to vote in primary, state-level races. Florida is currently a closed primary state.
  4. Would add another layer to getting a constitutional amendment passed. Voters would have to approve an amendment twice for it to take effect.
  5. Would add an additional year in which homeowners could transfer their “Save Our Homes” tax benefit when moving to a new house. This would give homeowners three years to claim the benefit. 
  6. Would expand a constitutional amendment giving property tax breaks to older veterans wounded in combat. If passed, it would allow spouses of these veterans to keep the exemption if their loved one dies. 

It is important to stay updated and educated on the local laws and elections, so be sure to do thorough research before you fill out your ballot on election day.

For more detailed summaries of the party platforms this year, click here.