Election Day is a little more than 30 days away.
From the U.S. president to local school board members, this is no small election. Each vote is vital and will impact the future of our country, and the future of Pinellas County.
Monday, October 5 is the deadline to register to vote or change political party affiliation for the November 3, 2020, general election.
If you’re unsure about your voter registration status, you can check it at dos.myflorida.com/elections.
Locally, voter turnout is the hot topic this year. Grassroots organizations like Gulfport Votes 100%, League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area, and Women Talk Black are renewing efforts to get voters registered, informed and out to the polls.
As of Friday, September 25, Pinellas County broke the 700,000 mark for registered voters.
“Metrics doesn’t sound very interesting,” says GV100 founder Ingrid Bredenberg, “but Gulfport likes a party.”
National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday that celebrates the right to vote, with the intent to make voting registration easily accessible.
The LGBTQ Resource Center and GV100’s registration party did not disappoint. Four Gulfport Queens, three community leaders and a slew of community influencers gathered under the shade of the library garden, danced to live music, issued library cards and registered voters.
“It is inexcusable that people have sat on the sidelines in the past. Now, more than ever, is the time to get out and vote,” said District 69 State Representative Jennifer Webb. “We have our COVID response on the line, we have our Supreme Court justice nominees on the line – we have how we’re going to pull ourselves out of this economic crisis.”
Alright, so perhaps you’re registered to vote, but standing in line in a pandemic isn’t an ideal situation. We get it, and so does the Supervisor of Elections and the United States Postal Service. In the time of COVID, there has been a greater emphasis on mail-in ballots over in-person voting and a debate on the validity of the absentee ballot process.
In case you’re wondering, “absentee ballots” and “mail ballots” are the same thing. You don’t need a reason to vote by mail. According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, “Any registered voter may request a mail ballot.”
If you’re mailing your ballot, there are steps you can take to help make your sure vote arrives in time to be counted.
Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus has urged residents to request their mail-in ballots as soon as possible, and to send them in quickly.
“Ballots are collected as they arrive at the three elections offices in person or by mail. Florida statutes allow mail ballots to be opened and processed beginning 22 days before the election,” according to the Supervisor of Elections office. “The first results released on election day are partial mail ballot results. The remainder of the mail ballots are processed during election night.”
Still, accurate counts of mail-in ballots take time. The sooner you send your ballot, the better.
“Postal delivery service has changed,” says the Supervisor of Elections office. “Voters are advised to allow at least one week for their ballot to be returned by mail to the Supervisor of Elections office.”
If you have concerns about the USPS’s ability to deliver your mail-in ballot on time, you can also drop off your ballot at an election office, polling location or ballot drop box, and skip the mailing process entirely.
“It’s easy to feel, in the pandemic, helpless. This is something that we can offer people to do, to feel like their voice matters,” says the LGBTQ Resource Center’s Susan Gore.
All three Supervisor of Elections offices will be open this Saturday, October 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will be open until 6 p.m. on Monday, October 5.
Voter registration applications are available at any Supervisor of Elections office or online at VotePinellas.com.
Make address changes online at VotePinellas.com, by calling 727-464-VOTE (8683) or by emailing Election@VotePinellas.com. You can also request a mail-in ballot for family members. Interested in becoming a poll worker? They can help you with that, too.
If you’re not online, you can complete all updates, including signature, name, address and political party affiliation, by completing a voter registration application and returning it to the Supervisor of Elections Office at 13001 Starkey Rd. Other offices are at 501 1st Ave. N., St. Petersburg and at the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court Street, Room 117, Clearwater. All three offices will be open Saturday, October 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will be open until 6 p.m. on Monday, October 5.
Voter registration deadline: October 5, 2020
Deadline to request a mail-in ballot: October 24, 5 p.m.
Early voting and ballot drop-off locations open: October 19 to November 1, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Register to vote, request a ballot, find a drop-off location, polling location, early voting locations and more at votepinellas.com.
Read the Gabber’s ongoing coverage of the upcoming election at thegabber.com/vote.