Historic City News editor Michael Gold sat with St Johns County Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes yesterday morning for an update on the 2012 General Election — the first since this year’s reapportionment of voting districts.
If there is one word to describe the election process this presidential election year, it would be “options”.
“There is no good reason for any St Johns County voter not to cast a ballot in this election and to have their vote count,” Oakes told Historic City News. “We already have people using the vote by mail option.”
Oakes said her office is open extended hours today and Tuesday; which is the last day to register or change your registration information before the November 6 election.
On September 21, Oakes mailed thousands of ballots to overseas voters and members of the military; on this Tuesday, October 2, thousands more domestic voters were mailed a ballot in a process that will continue daily through the close-of-business October 31.
Voters can go to the Supervisor of Elections Office, located at 4455 Avenue A in St Augustine, north of the Neil J Perry Criminal Justice Complex, and pick up an absentee ballot, in person, now through Election Day. “Some voters are completing both sides of the two-sheet ballot, sealing it in an envelope, and then turning it back in before they leave the office,” Oakes said. “It does not matter which precinct you are assigned — you can pick up and return absentee ballots at the elections office.”
If you are helping a friend or family member who is unable to get to Oakes office in person, beginning November 1, you may pick up a blank, absentee ballot for any family member, plus up to two unrelated voters, with the voter’s written and signed permission. You will be required to show photo identification and sign an affidavit at the Supervisor’s Office before the ballot will be released.
Anyone may return a sealed, absentee ballot to the Supervisor’s Office, regardless of their relationship to the voter. Oakes told Gold that next week she will announce certain designated St Johns County locations where absentee voters will be able to “drop off” their completed ballot — no postage required.
As part of her continuing effort to educate voters about the ballot before voters show up at the polls on Election Day, next week, Oakes is mailing over 150,000 voter-specific sample ballots. “Study the sample ballot — it contains the same races, and is in the same order, as the actual ballot you will be issued at your precinct,” Oakes told Historic City News readers. “Ideally, voters will complete the sample ballot at home; after they read their choices and research the candidates and amendments.”
Oakes says that her staff is encouraging voters to bring the completed sample ballot to the precinct with them. “With the length of this year’s ballot, it will take an average of 16-minutes per voter; if they are unprepared at the polling place,” Oakes said. “With the choices made ahead of time, using the completed sample ballot as a guide, a voter can complete the process in about 5-6 minutes.”
During Early Voting, October 27 – November 3, 2012, voters may vote, in person, at any designated Early Voting location. If you were previously mailed an absentee ballot, and then decide to vote in person; you may surrender your absentee ballot and vote at the polling place, with proper identification.
As we said, you have options. As Supervisor Oakes said, you have no excuses.