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Local supervisors of elections urge Sarasota voters to self-educate ahead of the vote

The primary election is set for Aug. 23 and ahead of that would be the Early Voting window which is slated from Aug. 8-21.

SARASOTA, Fla. — In less than two months, Floridians will head to the polls for the August primary election.

The primary election is set for Aug. 23. Ahead of that, the early voting window is slated from Aug.8-21. Election supervisors across the Tampa Bay region have already mailed out some vote-by-mail/absentee ballots to overseas military and residents.

Hillsborough County sent out more than 6,400 primary election ballots to absent military and overseas voters while Sarasota County has sent out more than 1,900 ballots.

Some local supervisors of elections are speaking out on what you need to know and urging those who want to participate in the election to register to vote before it is too late.

"You have to be registered to vote or change your party affiliation up to 29 days before the election and that date is July 25," Craig Latimer, a supervisor of elections in Hillsborough County, said.

The supervisors expect the primary to be busy with several important races including school boards in some areas.

"We also have hospital board, a State Senate contest which everyone can vote in, the universal primary contest, and then, of course, we have the Republican and Democratic primaries," Ron Turner, a supervisor of elections in Sarasota County, said.

Some parts of Florida including local counties have new boundaries due to redistricting and some have only recently completed their re-precincting process. With that, some voters would get a new voter information card this year. 

"You might've been voting in a certain district for say, the state house, and all of a sudden now you're in a new district and there are new candidates that you need to pay attention to," Latimer said.

Latimer said now is the time for voters to start getting themselves educated about their status, election requirements, the candidates and the process to facilitate accurately casting their ballot.

"We're asking the voters to look at those cards, make sure the information is correct, make sure there's nothing incorrect on it for sure and if they have any questions or anything they can give us a call," he said.

Elections officials will begin mailing out domestic Vote-By-Mail ballots in the coming week. All registered voters are eligible to vote by mail, however, the deadline for a ballot request which has to be mailed in is 5 p.m. on Aug. 13.

"If someone makes a Vote-By-Mail request now, they have to provide a Florida driver's license number for identification card number for the last four digits of your social security number," Turner said.

In addition, many counties will have "Secure Ballot Intake Stations" to return a vote by mail ballot. Those stations are monitored by staff.

Supervisors say voters accessing the right source of information is key to maintaining electoral confidence.

"It takes over 1,000 people to put on an election," Turner said. "They're not of the same political party. We all come together to follow Florida law."

"Get your information from a trusted source and I am the trusted source, your supervisor of election is a trusted source of information and that's where you should be going to, that's the website you should be looking at," Latimer said.

Voters should also check with their local election office for any changes or additions to early voting locations in your area.

To get updates and information to guide you through this year's primaries, text the word "vote" to 727-577-8522. The response link will include what's going to be on the ballot and where you can find your polling place. 

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