Hernando County voters don't have to wait for the Aug. 26 primary election to cast their ballots. Early voting kicks off this weekend.
There are some changes from past years.
Early voting is no longer available at the Hernando County Government Center in Brooksville. But, for the convenience of residents across the county, four early voting sites have been set up — at the East Hernando and Spring Hill branch libraries, the South Brooksville Community Center and the supervisor of elections' branch office at the Westside Government Center in Spring Hill.
"The courthouse is not a site (for early voting) because there just is not enough parking available," said Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson. "(The courthouse) is inconvenient to voters who must struggle to find a parking space, walk up the hill, then go through security."
Poll workers and elections staff will be available daily, Saturday through Aug. 23, at the early voting sites. Anderson said the elections branch office on Forest Oaks Boulevard in Spring Hill has been reconfigured with a temporary dividing wall to create two distinct rooms. Early voters will use the entrance on the south side of the office, while those wishing to do other business may use the main door.
In addition to early voting, the Supervisor of Elections Office has mailed more than 18,700 ballots for those wanting to vote by mail. As of Tuesday, 5,768 ballots had been returned — accounting for 4.65 percent of the county's registered voters.
"Which is good, considering we haven't really started," Anderson said.
Anderson, who is conducting her first election after winning the office in 2012, reminded residents who voted by mail that they may not drop off their ballots at any of the temporary early voting locations. Those ballots can be dropped off only at one of the supervisors of elections' permanent offices.
Registered voters who wish to vote early are reminded to bring one of the following forms of identification: a Florida driver's license, a Florida identification card, a U.S. Passport, military ID, student ID, a debit or credit card with photo, a retirement center ID, a neighborhood association ID or public assistance ID.
For those interested in additional election information, the elections office website — hernandovotes.com — now offers a "Quick View of Voter Turnout" and "Early Voting Status and Locations." The site is updated every 10 minutes.