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Preparation can help make Election Day go smoothly

Voters wait near to cast their ballots outside Precinct 17 at the Heather Community Center in Weeki Wachee during the 2008 Florida presidential primary election. You didn’t have to vote in the primary to vote today.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Voters wait near to cast their ballots outside Precinct 17 at the Heather Community Center in Weeki Wachee during the 2008 Florida presidential primary election. You didn’t have to vote in the primary to vote today.

The Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office has provided the following answers to frequently asked questions in anticipation of today's elections:

Are absentee ballots only counted if there is a close race?

No! All absentee ballots are verified and counted. In order to be counted, an absentee ballot must be received by the supervisor of elections 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.

When are absentee ballots 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 tabulated. However, no results will be released until after the closing of the polls on Election Day.

What if I request an absentee ballot, but then I decide that I want to vote at my polling place?

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 received by the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Does it matter what party I am registered with for the general election?

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.

If I did not vote in the primary election, am I allowed to vote in the general election?

You can vote in any election you choose, as long as you are eligible. Not voting in the primary election does not disqualify you from voting in the general election.

Do I need my voter information card in order to vote?

No. Your voter information card is not an acceptable form of identification for voting. You must provide current and valid photo and signature identification. According to Florida law, these are the only acceptable forms of photo and signature identification: Florida driver's license, Florida ID card, U.S. passport, military ID, debit or credit card, and Florida student, retirement center, neighborhood association and public assistance ID cards. You may present one form of ID that contains both a photo and signature or you can present two forms of ID — one with a photo and one with a signature.

If I can't use my voter information card to vote, why do you send it to me?

By state law, each registered voter must be issued a voter information card. A voter information card provides voters with information like the voter's polling location, precinct number, party affiliation and any districts in which the voter resides, such as senate, county commissioner and school board.

Do I have to vote at a specific polling location or can I just go to the one closest to me?

According to Florida law, you must vote in the precinct in which you live at the polling location that is assigned to your precinct. If you go to another polling location, you will be instructed to go to your assigned polling location in order to vote. If you are not sure where your polling location is, call the elections office at (352) 754-4125 to find out.

Can I still vote even if I have not updated the address on my driver's license to my current address?

Yes. The identification you provide at the polling place is used for photo, name and signature verification only. After you provide identification, you will be asked to state your current residential address.

Is it okay if I vote at my old polling place and use my old address?

No. According to Florida law, it is a felony to vote in a precinct in which you do not live. You can update your address with the elections office at any time, even on Election Day. You can even update your address at the polls on Election Day, and if your polling place changes, you will be sent to vote at your new polling place. However, it is not wise to wait until the last minute to update your information. Call the elections office at (352) 754-4125 to make sure your address information is current.

What if I need assistance when I am at my polling place?

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.

What happens when I got to the polls to cast my vote?

The poll worker will compare you with the photo on your ID. The poll worker will search for your voter record in the electronic voter identification system. Once your record is found, you will be asked to read the oath and sign the signature pad.

The poll worker will compare your signature to the signature on the ID you provide, and the signatures must match. If your signature has significantly changed, you will be allowed to update your signature with the precinct coordinator.

If you are unable to provide photo and signature ID, you will have to cast a provisional ballot.

Otherwise, once your signature has been verified, the poll worker will compare the name on your identification with the name on your voter record. If your name has changed, you will be allowed to update your name with the precinct coordinator.

The poll worker will ask you to state your current residential address (unless by law your address is protected). The poll worker will compare the address you state verbally with the address on your voter record. If it does not match, you will be allowed to update your address with the precinct coordinator.

It does not matter what the address on your ID is. The poll worker does not use the address that is listed on your ID to verify your address. The poll worker goes by the address you state verbally. The ID is used for name, photo and signature verification only.

If your photo, signature, name and address all match and you are at your correct polling place, you will be issued a voting pass that you will exchange for a ballot at the ballot pick-up table.

If your photo, signature, name and/or address do not match, you will be issued a pass and will be sent to the precinct coordinator to update your information. If you are at the incorrect polling place, you will be issued a pass that tells you which polling place you need to go to in order to vote. The pass will have directions to your assigned polling place.

At the ballot pick-up table, you will give your voting pass to the poll worker and the poll worker will issue you a ballot in a secrecy sleeve and direct you to the voting area.

You will fill in your choices on the ballot using the marking pen provided in the voting booth. Once you are finished voting, you will proceed to the ballot box.

At the ballot box you will insert your ballot into the Accu-vote machine that is in the top of the ballot box. The Accu-vote is an optical scan voting machine that reads the ballot and records the votes on a memory card. Then you will give your secrecy sleeve to the poll worker at the ballot box and the poll worker will give you an "I Voted" sticker and direct you to the exit.

Be patient on Election Day. The poll workers are there to help you. They understand that everyone is in a hurry. However, accuracy is more important than speed in the completion of their duties. Poll workers will serve each voter promptly and courteously.

Be prepared before you go to your polling place. Call the elections office to make sure your voter information is up to date. It may save you a lot of time.

Preparation can help make Election Day go smoothly 11/03/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 6:55am]

    

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