Thousands of voters are expected to trek to polling places across Hernando County for Tuesday's general election. Many others have already voted either through absentee or early voting. Here are some frequently asked questions — and answers — provided by Elizabeth R. Townsend, the community relations coordinator for Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Annie D. Williams:
Does it matter what party I am registered with for the general election?
No. It does not matter what party you are registered with for the general election. All ballots will have candidates from the major parties, from the minor parties and with no party affiliation. In each race, you may vote for any candidate of any party.
Should I bring anything with me when I go to vote?
Bring photo and signature identification. You will have to provide current and valid photo and signature identification in order to vote. The only acceptable forms of photo and signature identification are Florida driver's license, Florida ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, U.S. passport, debit or credit card, military ID, neighborhood association ID, retirement center ID, student ID, and public assistance ID.
What if I do not have an acceptable photo and signature ID?
If you are unable to provide photo and signature ID, you will have to cast a provisional ballot. If your signature on your provisional ballot envelope matches the signature the elections office has on file for you, then your ballot will be accepted.
What steps must I go through to get a ballot?
Step 1: Provide your ID to the poll worker.
Step 2: The poll worker will search for your voter record in the electronic voter identification system, a tabletop portable computer that checks voters in electronically.
Step 3: Once the poll worker finds your record, they will verify your name and ask you to confirm your address. If your address has changed, you will be allowed to update your address with the precinct coordinator.
Step 4: The poll worker will ask you to read the oath and sign the signature pad.
Step 5: The poll worker will compare your signature to the signature on the ID you provide. Per Florida statutes, the signatures must match. If your signature has significantly changed, you will be allowed to update your signature with the precinct coordinator.
Step 6: If your name, address and signature all match and you are at your correct polling place, you will be issued a voting pass.
Step 7: You will take the voting pass to the ballot pickup table and exchange the pass for a ballot.
Step 8: You will vote your ballot at a voting booth. There is a marking pen provided for you in the booth.
Step 9: Once finished voting your ballot, you will take it to the ballot box and insert it into the AccuVote machine.
Step 10: You will receive your "I Voted" sticker.
What if my change of address moves me into another voting precinct?
If you change your address at the polling place on Election Day and your new address is in another voting precinct, you will receive a pass that tells you the voting precinct you now belong in and the directions to the polling place for that precinct from its nearest intersection.
What if I am at the wrong polling place and I won't be able to make it to my correct polling place before 7 p.m.?
If you go to the wrong polling place and won't make it to your correct polling place before the polls close at 7 p.m., there is nothing that can be done. Please avoid this situation by making sure you are prepared for Election Day. Make sure your address is up to date and find out where your correct polling place is. It is wise not to wait till the last minute to do everything. If you are not sure where you should vote, call the elections office to find out — (352) 754-4125.
Will I have to wait in line?
You may or may not have to wait in line. A large turnout is expected. Voter turnout varies by precinct. If you are trying to avoid waiting in line, it is best to avoid the typically busy times, which are 7 to 9 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Remember, as long as you are in line (at your assigned polling place) before the closing of the polls at 7 p.m., you will be allowed to vote, if you are eligible.
What if I need assistance when I am at my polling place?
The poll workers are there to assist voters. If you need assistance when you are at your polling place, do not hesitate to let a poll worker know what you need. The poll worker will get the precinct coordinator to assist you.
When are absentee ballots counted?
In order to be counted, an absentee ballot must be received by the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, and the voter's signature must match what is on record. Military and overseas voters have 10 days after the date of the federal election to return the absentee ballot to the Supervisor of Elections Office. However, the envelope must still be postmarked no later than the date of the federal election in order to be counted. On the sixth day before the election, absentee ballots that have been received and verified can be put through the tabulating equipment. All absentee ballots received no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day will be verified and put through the tabulating equipment. However, no results will be released until after the closing of the polls on Election Day.
What if I requested an absentee ballot, but then decide that I want to vote at my polling place?
If you requested an absentee ballot, but then decide that you would like to vote at your polling place, then you may do so. If you have your absentee ballot packet, bring it with you to your polling place and an election official will assist you. If you do not have your absentee ballot packet, you may have to cast a provisional ballot if it cannot be determined if your absentee ballot was or was not received by the elections office.