Florida Early Election Records
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This entry was originally written by the Florida Pioneer Descendants Certification Program Committee of the Florida State Genealogical Society, Inc. for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The Florida State Archives has 2,000 folders of important early election records. Land records can be misleading on absentee owners, but election records were sworn documents requiring proof of residence, usually six months in the county, two years in the state. The files are arranged by year, and then by county, but they must be used in person. These voter rolls and returns list the names of candidates, clerks, and inspectors in local, state, congressional, referendum, and militia elections from 1824. Until 1865 each voter’s name and precinct of residence is listed.
Among the most useful records for those tracing ancestors at the time of statehood are the returns of the first statewide election, held on 26 May 1845, in Brian E. Michaels, Florida Voters in Their First Statewide Election (Tallahassee: Florida State Genealogical Society, 1987).
Another voter record of genealogical significance, located at the Florida State Archives, is the 1868 Florida Voter Registration, which required an oath of allegiance to the U.S. government. It was also the first voter enrollment open to African Americans. While it is neither indexed nor complete for all counties, this important re-registration for the post-war constitutional convention election includes name, qualifying date, race, length of residence, nativity by state, and naturalization. The rolls are arranged by county and then by the date of individual registration.