“When it comes to voting in August, you have options”

Writer –  BEN DOUTHETT

We all know there’s a kinda-sorta-major election happening on November 8. But many people only follow politics casually, and they might not realize there’s a slightly-less-but-still-important election that is scheduled for August 30.

The two major candidates for the White House have already been all but decided, but August’s statewide primary will still do quite a lot to set the tone for the race to the first Tuesday in November. Parties will decide their nominees for Congress, for the state legislature, and for county clerk of courts. In addition, there will be at least one statewide ballot measure, on making it easier to claim tax exemptions for home solar energy panels.

If you plan to vote in August, you should make sure you’re registered with the correct party. Florida is a “closed-primary” state, which means only registered members of a given party may decide that party’s candidates. If you want to change your registration, you have until August 1 to do so. Just print a copy of the registration form from the county Supervisor of Elections’ website, fill it out, and mail it back to the SOE’s office. Alternatively, you can fill out the form and drop it off at any Jacksonville Public Library.

As for the actual process of , you have several options to choose from:

  • Vote-by-mail. Formerly referred to as “absentee voting”, this is exactly what it sounds like- fill out your ballot and return it by post. This option is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows the voter to research the candidates and issues from the comfort of their own home. According to the League of Women Voters, Duval is one of only five counties in the state that pays the return postage. This seemingly insignificant detail only adds to the convenience factor, as many don’t want to pay for a stamp to return their ballot. Here, you don’t have to.
  • Early voting.  The SOE is expected to once again open 17 different early voting sites for August’s primary. The early voting period will run from August 15-28, and every site will be open from 10 AM to 6 PM, including on weekends. The list of early voting locations includes the Gateway Town Center, Legends Community Center, Oceanway Community Center, and 14 branches of the Jacksonville Public Library.
  • Election Day voting. This is the big one. If you plan to vote on the first Tuesday in November (or in this case, the last Tuesday in August), make sure you know where your assigned precinct is. The address is printed on your Voter Registration Card, and you can also look it up on the SOE’s website. Unlike with early voting, you can’t just go to any polling place you want. All polling places will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM.

If you plan to vote in person- be it early or on Election Day- make sure you have your photo identification ready. Acceptable forms of identification include driver’s license, state-issued ID, passport, military ID, student ID, concealed-weapons license, and government employee ID.
If you arrive at the polls without an acceptable ID to show, you’ll be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. This means that you’ll have to sign an affidavit on the ballot. When the votes are counted on Election Night, the signature is checked against the one in your voter registration record, and if they match, the ballot will be counted. This option seems a bit risky- people’s signatures change slightly over time, and young people tend to change their signatures quite frequently. In any case, I strongly recommend just having the ID to show at the door.

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