FORT WALTON BEACH — Early voting in this month's primary election has begun in Santa Rosa County, and will start Saturday in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
Voters in Santa Rosa have been casting ballots in advance of the Aug. 28 primary since Aug. 13. Early voting ends in all three counties on Aug. 25.
In Santa Rosa County, early voters can cast ballots daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the South Santa Rosa Service Center at 5841 Gulf Breeze Parkway in Gulf Breeze; the Tiger Point Community Center at 1370 Tiger Park in Gulf Breeze; the county tax office at 6495 Caroline St. in Milton; and the Pace Community Center at 5976 Chumuckla Highway.
In Okaloosa County, early voting is set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the county administration building at 1250 Eglin Parkway in Shalimar; the library at 1446 Commerce Drive in Crestview; the county tax office at 302 Wilson St. in Crestview; the Destin Community Center at 101 Stahlman Ave.; and Niceville City Hall at 208 Partin Drive.
Walton County's early voters can cast ballots from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday; and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Early voting is set up at the courthouse at 571 U.S. Highway 90 in DeFuniak Springs; the courthouse annex at 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard in Santa Rosa Beach; Freeport City Hall at 112 State Road 20; and Faith Assembly Church, 306 S. Geronimo St. in Miramar Beach.
Florida's primary elections are closed, meaning voters registered with a political party cast ballots for members of that party in advance of the November general election. Voters not registered with a party can cast ballots in nonpartisan races on the primary ballot, such as school board seats.
This year's primary ballots feature the gubernatorial races. The Democratic ballot comprises former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and businessmen Jeff Green and Chris King. On the Republican side, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis are vying for a spot in the Nov. 6 general election.
Also on Florida primary ballots are the all but uncontested races for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Bill Nelson. Nelson does not have a primary challenger, and the Republican contender, Gov. Rick Scott, faces only token opposition from California businessman Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente.
Locally, primary ballots will include the 1st Congressional District seat held by Republican Matt Gaetz. Gaetz faces partisan opposition from Cris Dosev, a businessman and former Marine, and retired Navy pilot John Mills. The Democratic primary features Phil Ehr, a retired Navy officer, and Dr. Jennifer Zimmerman, a pediatrician in Santa Rosa County.
Other local primary races include county commission, school board and fire district contests. Mail-in voting already has begun, and as of this week almost 600,000 early votes had been cast statewide.
Looking ahead, Oct. 9 is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.