Haven't voted yet? Over-the-counter ballots may help avoid long lines

10:54 PM, Nov 4, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, Florida -- Early voting days are done for this election, but some counties are finding a way to still let people vote in a very similar way.

Elections officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are opening up their doors, offering over-the-counter vote by mail ballots.

"It's not early voting, but it is voting early," says Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard.

Governor Rick Scott recently turned down the possibility of adding more official early voting days beyond Saturday, and the process of what Lennard calls "voting early" is left up to each county.

"Since we are here and working, we are also allowing folks to come in and pick up an absentee ballot in person," Lennard says. "Statute allows us to give an absentee ballot in person up to, and including, election day."

It's an alternative that, so far, has brought short lines and voters who didn't even know it was available.

"I was really excited because everyone kept telling me early voting was over," says voter Kayla Fowler. "I called the elections office and they said you could still do over the counter."

There are slight differences between early voting days and over-the-counter service. There are no voting machines at the designated locations now, just ballot boxes. But to voters going through the process, the result is the same: a chance to voice their choice.

"I think it's going to result in a higher turnout overall because people have more opportunities to vote," says voter Marlene Trusing.

In order to participate in absentee in-person voting, you must be registered to vote and bring identification that includes a photo and signature, such as a driver's license. Absentee in-person voting continues on Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations:

Hillsborough County

Supervisor of Elections South Office
10439 Gibsonton Drive
Riverview, Florida 33578

Supervisor of Elections Northwest Office
12022 Anderson Road
Tampa, Florida 33625

Fred B. Karl County Center
601 E. Kennedy Blvd, 16th Floor
Tampa, Florida 33602

Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center
2514 N. Falkenburg Rd.
Tampa, Florida 33619

Pinellas County

Election Service Center, Starkey Lakes Corporate Center
13001 Starkey Road
Largo, FL 33773

Pinellas County Courthouse
315 Court Street, Room 117
Clearwater, FL 33756

County Building
501 First Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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