Today is Election Day. Or perhaps more to the point, it's the day you can select the next president as well as weigh in on a whole host of issues. You can vote today after you finish the crossword — or tomorrow, after your hair appointment, or before you head to the gym Thursday, or during lunchtime at work on Friday. How about Saturday morning before you mow the lawn?
"Early voting is quick, easy and will help reduce poll congestion," said Lori Parham, the AARP's state director in Florida, who notes that turnout is forecast to be heavy. (If the incessant buzz on cable news and talk shows, the Keiths and Bills, Neils and Glenns, is any indication, she's got that right.) Note that early voting ends Saturday. After that, you'll have to go to the polls on Nov. 4.
About half of all voters who cast ballots in the 2004 election race were 50 and older, just like you and me, the AARP said. They note also that roughly a third of us are Republicans, a third are Democrats and a third are Independents, which mirrors the nation as a whole. And those of us who vote, all 67 percent of us, are proud to do so. But you, the 23 percent club, what's up? You've got a week left to vote. No excuses.
So, what's on our minds this election cycle? Of the 40-million members of the AARP — 95 percent of whom are registered to vote — these are the things that are most on the minds of folks 50 and older, according to a survey conducted by ICR, an independent research company:
• 80 percent are either very or somewhat concerned about their current out-of-pocket health care costs.
• 82 percent rate the condition of the economy as fairly bad or very bad.
• 70 percent find it difficult to pay for things like gas, food and medicine.
• 75 percent said personal debt was somewhat or very important in choosing who to vote for in the presidential election.
• 92 percent say high prescription drug costs are somewhat or very important in deciding whom they will choose for president.
Oh, and this:
• 97 percent think Social Security is an important presidential election issue.
Need any more motivation to vote early? Unless you like standing in line, of course. So, see you at the polls, tomorrow noonish?
Mimi Andelman can be reached at (727) 893-8272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get out the vote
Early voting continues through Saturday. There is no early voting after that. Here's a list of Pinellas County early voting locations. Before you head out to vote, check out the St. Petersburg Times' special "Know Your Candidates" guide to races in your area at tampabay.com. And don't forget your voter registration card and picture ID:
(Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; (727) 464-6108 or votepinellas.com.)
• County Courthouse: 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater.
• Election Service Center: 13001 Starkey Road, Starkey Lakes Corporate Center, Largo.
• County Building, Annex Conference Room: 501 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg.
(Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted; (813) 272-5850 or votehillsborough.org.)
• County Center: 601 E Kennedy Blvd., 16th Floor, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tampa.
• Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library: 3910 S Manhattan Ave., Tampa.
• College Hill Branch Library: 2607 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa.
• West Tampa Branch Library: 2312 W Union St., Tampa.
• Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center: 2514 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library: 2902 W Bearss Ave., Tampa
• Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library: 11211 Countryway Blvd., Tampa
• New Tampa Regional Library: 10001 Cross Creek Blvd., Tampa
• Plant City City Hall: 302 W Reynolds St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Plant City
• Riverview Branch Library: 10509 Riverview Drive, Riverview
• SouthShore Regional Library: 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin
• Temple Terrace Public Library: 202 Bullard Parkway, Temple Terrace
• Bloomingdale Regional Public Library: 1906 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico
(Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; toll-free 1-800-851-8754 or pascovotes.com.)
• South Holiday Branch Library: 4649 Mile Stretch Drive, Holiday
• Village Market of Wesley Chapel, 5325 Village Market, Wesley Chapel
• West Pasco Government Center, 7530 Little Road, Suite 110, New Port Richey
• New River Branch Library, 34043 State Road 54, Zephyrhills
• Hudson Regional Library, 8012 Library Road, Hudson
• Central Pasco Professional Center, 4111 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Room 105, Land O'Lakes
• East Pasco Government Center, 14236 Sixth St., Dade City
(Hours 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; (352) 754-4125 or hernandovotes.com.)
• Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St., Room 165, Brooksville
• Forest Oaks Government Center: 7443 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill