The 2016 Elections
Resources & Guides for Our Faith Community
This page lists Election and Political Activities Resources produced and approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) and the Diocese of Palm Beach. These resources and guidelines are for use by diocesan parishes and the faith community.
You may either read through the page or use our "topic direction shortcut" to view specific information. To use the "shortcut" please click on the title below and you will be redirected to that area on this page.
(view this presidential candidate guide)
(view the summary of candidates' answers)
Florida's Amendment 2 (view the bishops statement and concerns)
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(including discerning your vote aids)
|Discernment highlights from Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship||Elections & Political Acitivities Guide||Voter Information||Resource to Discern Your Vote about Judicial Candidates||Election Dates||Additional Resources|
Discerning Your Vote, a document to assist with discerning one’s vote for the March 15 Presidential Preference Primary.
The right to vote carries with it a responsibility to study and know the candidates. As citizens of faith, we are led to question how each candidate if elected will address issues that protect or threaten the dignity of every human life. There are moral and ethical dimensions to every public policy. This document, available in English and Spanish, provides questions to assist in discerning where the candidates stand on importation issues in light of our foundational beliefs.
Approved by the bishops of Florida, this guide for pastors and parishes is intended to encourage Catholic clergy and laity to facilitate the involvement of their faith communities in appropriate election related activities. These activities are designed to increase parishioner interest in the policy issues that will characterize election year debates, to focus their attention on candidate positions, and encourage them to exercise their right to vote.
A new, updated version of the Election and Political Activities Guide was released and published in April 2016 and serves as the NEW guidelines to be followed for the 2016 elections and beyond. Similar to its earlier version, it identifies guidelines and appropriate activity for parish and pastor involvement in election related activities. One of the changes to note is the section on "Conducting Voter Registration Drives” (Page 8).
The Election and Political Activities Guide is available on the FCCB web page. The guide is available in English and Spanish. You will also find an online viewing format and a printable/downloadable booklet format as PDF file.
Similar to what was produced in previous years, the FCCB plans to release a Candidate Questionnair Project (CQP) for the 2016 elections. The FCCB will release a CQP for the August 30th Primary Election and the November 8th General Election. When the CQPs are released, you will be able to find it on the FCCB web site and on this diocesan web page. The diocesan Office of Communications will also provide the CQP informaiton to parishes.
**New** (update posted 9/30/16)
The updated CQPs for the November 8 Election will be released in print format in October. Just as the CQPs were made available for the August 30th Primary, the new versions will also be available in English and Spanish. Candidates that will be on the November ballot have until Oct. 11 to respond. The Florida bishops expect to release the new CQPs as bulletin inserts in PDF format on October 13. Once released you will find them posted here.
Responses received so far are available for viewing on the FCCB website. Follow the link at the end of this paragraph to view the CQP responses. As the bishops receive the responses, the FCCB will update the candidate responses on its CQP web page as well as update the related CQP PDF file. We suggest always checking back on the CQP web page for the most updated information.
Click here to view the CQP responses web page of the Florida bishops (this page includes the candidate responses)
Please note the CQPs and the Know the Positions of the Presidential Candidates are the only survey/poll approved by our state bishops for use in parish bulletins and diocesan publications.
More about the CQP
Each election cycle, the FCCB conducts the Candidate Questionnaire Project (CQP) to assist Catholics and the broader community with the obligation to become informed voters. Knowing where the candidates stand on issues concerning human life and dignity and the advancement of the common good is essential to responsible faithful citizenship.
To help parishioners become informed on where candidates stand on key issues, the FCCB polls those running for U.S. Congress, the Florida Legislature, and Florida Governor. Each election cycle, the conference outlines questions of concern to the Catholic Church that will be discussed among elected officials.
**New** (update posted 8/15/16)
CQPs are not available for judges listed on the ballot. Judicial candidates are barred from making statements that appear to commit them on legal issues likely to come before them in court; therefore, a questionnaire or voter’s guide seeking a judge’s stance on specific issues is not possible. However to assist voters in deciding their votes the Florida Bar provides some information on the candidates which includes judicial biographies and judicial candidate voluntary self-disclosure statements.
**New** (update posted 9/30/2016)
In keeping with its mission to educate and inform Catholics and assist the faithful with their responsibility to participate in political life, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) has released its 2016 presidential guide, Know the Positions of the Presidential Candidates.
To help voters form their consciences before casting their ballots, the positions of the presidential candidates on several key issues have been compiled from policies, public statements, official and campaign websites and other resources. These issues do not represent a complete list of concerns that may be of importance to Catholics.
This document, approved for distribution in Florida parishes, is but one tool to help Catholics prepare for the election and is not a substitute for individual research and study. The responsibility to make political choices rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience in accordance with human reason and the truths of our faith. The FCCB neither supports nor opposes any candidate for public office.
View the Know the Positions online (click here)
View the website of third party candidates (click here)
Please note the Know the Positions of the Presidential Candidates and the CQPs are the only survey/poll approved by our state bishops for use in parish bulletins and diocesan publications.
**New** (updated 9/30/2016)
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement identifying concerns with a problematic framework established by Amendment 2, “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions.” The statement expresses concerns the bishops want voters to consider before voting. The full statement follows:
On Election Day in November, Floridians will vote on an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would allow the “use of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions.” The proposed amendment is Amendment Two. In a statement released by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishops express their concerns and point out what they want voters to consider before voting.
View the statement online (click here)
**New** (updated 9/30/2016)
Elections are not just about candidates but often involve decisions on issues. Just as we are called to faithful citizenship before voting for an individual, we must properly form our consciences in anticipation of marking the ballot in support of or opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment. Looking beyond how we are affected personally, review of an issue must involve an assessment and an integration of the interests of all Floridians. Using the fundamentals of Catholic Social Teaching to guide us as we form our consciences, we must take into consideration how the issues before us address certain concerns of our faith.
Please click on the links below for this guide from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The USCCB recently released an updated version which consists mainly of the statement adopted overwhelmingly by the bishops in 2007, plus certain limited revisions by way of update including new papal teachings and integrates recent U.S. policy developments. It is available for viewing on the USCCB’s web site.
The U.S. bishops encourage placing the document on your parish website or linking your parish website to its placement on the USCCB website. Click here to view the online version or to download the PDF version of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.
Discernment regarding "intrinsic evils" & The U.S. bishops In the USCCB's Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship the U.S. bishops directly address the issue of voting for a candidate that supports abortion, or other "intrinsic evils." Below is an excerpt from Sections 31-39 titled Making Moral Decisions. The sections below aid in your discernment however it is best to take the section in context of the entire document of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.
34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases, a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
36. When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.
37. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose policies promoting intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue. In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.
Faithful Citizenship Web page, a resource on Catholic teaching and a guide for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy.
On this page, you will find many resources to assist in understanding Catholic teaching and the top resources in forming consciences. Resources include bulletin inserts, videos and more. Pastors, lay and religious faithful are encouraged to utilize the resources available. Some materials are designed to specific audiences such as diocesan & community Leaders, parishes & schools, Youth and Campuses & Young Adults.
The U.S. bishops also encourage linking your parish website to the Faithful Citizenship web page. View this web page
Voters must register with their local Supervisor of Election Office by the set deadline date to be eligible to vote in primaries and elections. The deadline to register to vote for an upcoming election is 29 days before the election.
Once eligible, voters can vote by mail (absentee), by voting early, or by voting at the polls on Election Day. You can check your voter registration status and polling place on the website of the Florida Division of Elections.
Within the Diocese of Palm Beach, here are the Offices for the County Supervisor of Elections:
Palm Beach County
Not certain which county you live? You can use the city and county locator found on the state’s website to find it.
For voting information and assistance, including election dates, early voting, precincts and Supervisor of Elections, call the Voters Assistance Hotline listed below. It is open Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST.
- Voter Assistance Hotline (in English and Español) Toll Free 1-866-308-6739
- The toll free Voter Hotline number for people using TTY is 1-800-955-8771 (TDD) or 1-800-955-8770 (Voice).
The following lists 2016 elections, voter registration deadlines and early voting periods. For more information, visit the website of the Florida Division of Elections.
Upcoming 2016 Elections
March 15 - Presidential Preference Primary
- This is a closed primary election. This means that you must be registered
with one of Florida's major political parties to be eligible to vote in the PPP.
- Voter registration deadline - February 16
- Early voting period - March 5 - 12*
August 30 - Primary Election
- Voter registration deadline - August 1
- Early voting period - August 20 - 27*
November 8 - General Election
- Voter registration deadline - October 11
- Early voting period - October 29 - November 5
*The early voting period consists of a minimum mandatory period of 8 days. It starts on the 10th day and ends on the 3rd day before Election Day. In addition, each county Supervisor of Elections may at his or her own discretion offer additional days of early voting on any or all days during the 15th through 11th day and the last Sunday before Election Day.