The presidential election is heating up and a vacation state could be the deciding factor

Florida has traditionally been a pivotal swing state and could decide the 2016 election


Illustration by Ivan Benavides

Jason Tirico, Contributing Writer

Florida is known for its sandy beaches, wild theme parks and bizarre crimes, yet its most significant contribution may be made in this year’s presidential elections.

With state residency, students can qualify for lower tuition rates and have their presidential votes count toward one of the more important swing states.

“Florida and Ohio have been the two most important states. Most states vote the same in each election with the exception of Florida, Ohio, Iowa and a few others,” said Kevin Wagner, an associate professor and director for graduate studies of FAU’s department of political science.

Florida represents 29 out of the 270 votes necessary to elect the president, making it one of the more pivotal swing states since 2000. Victory in the Sunshine State is a critical component for this year’s presidential candidates.

Alexi Siegel, a 24-year-old photographer majoring in studio art said, “I noticed that a lot of people I spoke with are discouraged because of the controversy over Bush and Gore.”

Florida was the deciding factor in the controversial 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The results were so close that Florida held a recount, which resulted in a narrow victory of 537 votes — tipping the scales in Bush’s favor.

Hillsborough County — home to Tampa and the fourth-largest voting district in the state — is considered the must-win swing zone in all of Florida’s presidential election proceedings, according to

The majority of Hillsborough voters sided with the presidential winner in each election dating back to 1960. This county could play a pivotal role directing votes toward either party’s candidate.

The electoral college system does not divide its votes based on how each district voted — all 29 are awarded to the candidate who wins the majority.

In 2004, Bush won by receiving 50 percent of the presidential votes compared to Kerry’s 49 percent, resulting in Bush gaining Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

“I’m not a big fan of it,” said Wagner. “I think the Electoral College is the way it is because that’s how the founding fathers wrote it down in the Constitution … it hasn’t changed much since then.”

If a relatively small margin of voters determines where the entire allotment of electoral votes is placed, and Florida once again becomes a must-win for presidential candidates, then these voters may wield some of the most powerful ballots this year.

To become eligible, students cannot simply show up on the day of the election and vote. First they must become residents — which requires that they live in Florida for six months — and then they have to apply for a voter’s registration card 29 days prior to the election date.