As registered voters begin receiving their Notice of Elections in the mail this week, there are a few things voters may want to do ensure their vote gets counted.
The primary election is August 26 for state and local elections such as the District 101 seat in the state legislature. The general election is November 4.
First-time voters need to register 29 days before the election or by July 28 for the primary. If changing political parties, voters must re-register in order to vote for their party in the primary. Voters may vote for any party regardless of which one they are registered with in the general election.
Cyndi Young, an education coordinator with the Supervisor of Elections Office said there are several things Marco Island voters may want to do to ensure their vote is counted, particularly if voting by mail or absentee ballot.
“Often times an older person’s writing may deteriorate. Voters should update their signatures periodically,” Young said.
She added that if a signature does not match what is on file the ballot will be discarded.
Any registered voter may choose to vote via absentee ballot instead of going to their designated poll locations.
“You don’t have to be out of town,” Young said.
Absentee ballots may be requested anytime by mail, phone, online or in-person and may be mailed in as early as three to four weeks before the election.
Another option for voters is early voting, which allows alternative days, times and locations for registered voters to cast their votes.
“It’s a convenience thing,” Young said.
Early voting begins 15 days before the election. There are seven locations in Collier County including the Marco Island Library. Early voting for the primary begins August 11.
Young said that any rumors that absentee ballots allow voters to get their votes counted twice by also going to the polls are untrue.
“We have an older population who sometimes forget they mailed it in and then go to the poll,” she said.
However the poll workers and voting machines catch such duplications. If the voting machine counts the vote even when an absentee ballot has been mailed, Young said that it would likely be because the absentee ballot was not yet received and processed.
“Once that comes in we have people counting every one and they will catch,” she said adding that poll workers will inform voters if they catch a duplication at the poll.
Young said it’s also important for people to be aware that the voting machines have changed this year.
“It’s pretty easy but it’s change. It’s not touch screen anymore,” she said.
The ballots will now be similar to a multiple choice test where voters fill in the appropriate circles and then the ballot is scanned by the machine.
“If something isn’t filled out correctly or two circles for the same election are accidentally filled in, the machine will spit out the ballot,” she said.
Voters will have three tries. If the machine does not accept the third ballot correction, then only the areas filled out correctly will be counted, Young said.
Before getting to polls voters should remember to bring in a photo and signature identification such as their drivers license or voters registration card.
More information about voting can be found on the Supervisor of Elections Web site www.CollierVotes.com or by calling (239)252-8450. The office is located in the Collier Government Complex, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Building, 3301 Tamiami Trail East in Naples.