Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas to expand early voting for Nov. 4 election

CLEARWATER — Pinellas residents will have more opportunities to vote early in the Nov. 4 general election and will be able to drop off absentee ballots at remote sites despite recent objections to the practice.

The expansion of early voting is a bit of a reversal for Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark, who has long favored mail ballots as more economical.

Clark will open five early voting sites, which include two new ones, at the Gulfport Community Center and the Centre of Palm Harbor.

The hours the five sites will be open also will expand to 168, a 75 percent increase from the 2012 general election. Early voting will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 20 to Nov. 2 — at a cost of $313,177.

Julie Marcus, the deputy elections supervisor, delivered the news to county commissioners during a budget workshop Thursday. Clark is out of town.

Marcus noted that Clark lobbied for a bill to give elections offices more flexibility in where they can offer early voting beyond city halls and libraries. Anticipating the bill's passage last year, Clark's office surveyed potential sites and selected the two community centers for their location, size, available parking and disability access.

The controversy over the remote dropoff sites seems to have subsided since December, when Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued a directive to stop collecting absentee ballots at libraries and tax collector offices because it ran afoul of state law. Clark served notice that she would ignore Detzner's order because the law was on her side.

Marcus said Detzner's office sent an observer to Pinellas for the March election and the visit resulted in a "glowing" report.

"There's no reason for us to feel we can't move forward and provide these locations that provide tremendous convenience for voters," she said.

Pinellas has used the remote sites since 2008. In the March election, nearly 70 percent of county voters cast absentee ballots, and about one out of eight voters overall used a remote site to return a ballot. Clark's office will offer 11 sites for the primary and general elections.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, has criticized Clark for having an "extreme" emphasis on voting absentee. He also blames Clark for having too few early voting sites. Latvala filed a bill this past session to put Clark's remote dropoff boxes out of business but tabled the proposal when it failed to garner support.

On Thursday, Latvala called Clark's decision to offer more early voting sites "a step in the right direction. It still doesn't keep pace with what other large counties have done, but five is better than three."

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Pinellas to expand early voting for Nov. 4 election 05/15/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.