Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

What you need to know for Election Day

Though thousands of Pinellas County residents have already voted, thousands more are expected to show up at the polls today, where they can expect long lines and a long ballot. Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A record number of people have cast their ballots in advance, using mail ballots or voting early in person. By mid October, Pinellas voters had already broken the record for mail ballots cast in the 2008 presidential election. So far this year, about 222,800 mail ballots have been sent in and 39,500 people have voted early.

If you plan to vote today, here's what you need to know before you head to the polls:

Double check your polling place. Every registered voter in Pinellas is assigned to one of the county's 299 precincts, which is listed on voters' information cards. Residents also can call the county's Election Service Center at (727) 464-8683 to find their precinct location. County officials also mailed sample ballots to residents and those contain precinct information as well. Some precinct assignments changed because of redistricting, so don't assume where you voted in 2008 is where you should go in 2012.

What you need to bring: Florida requires people to present a valid picture identification with a signature in order to vote. This can be a current driver's license, U.S. passport, Florida identification card, student or military ID, debit or credit card, retirement center ID, neighborhood association ID or public assistance ID. Registered voters who show up without identification will be asked to cast a provisional ballot, which the canvassing board will later review to decide its validity.

Allow extra time for the long ballot: This year's ballot is four pages long — it fills two sheets, front and back — and is one of the longest in Florida history. Each of those sheets has to be filled out and fed, one at a time, through the county's ballot scanners. Inevitably, the length of the ballot and some voters' unfamiliarity with the 11 constitutional amendments have led to lines at early voting stations. Give yourself extra time to stand in line and read all those amendments. Because there are so many precincts, election officials will not post wait times online as they have done during early voting.

Still have an absentee ballot? It's too late to vote by mail, but you can still drop off your completed ballot today at one of the 14 county locations by 7 p.m. Those locations are posted on the Supervisor of Elections website at www.votepinellas.com. If you never filled it out, you can still vote in person at your precinct, but it's a good idea to bring the unused mail ballot with you. If you don't, precinct workers will have to call the elections office to verify that you didn't already submit it, an extra step that could make the process longer.

Want to make sure your absentee ballot was received? Call the supervisor of elections office at (727) 464-8683 or go to www.votepinellas.com and scroll to the bottom of the page where it says "Track Your Mail Ballot Status." Enter your last name, birth date, and house number. When a ballot has reached the elections office, the record will state "Ballot 1 received by office." Your ballot will not technically be processed until today, after which time the status will change to show whether the ballot was counted or not. Voters whose ballots are not counted will receive a letter from the supervisor of elections after the election explaining why.

What if a poll worker says I can't vote but I think I can? You can cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are given to voters whose eligibility cannot be determined. You will have to submit proof by 5 p.m. Thursday that you were eligible to vote.

Can I wear a campaign T-shirt to vote? Voters wearing campaign gear may enter a polling place to vote, but they are asked not to speak about candidates or issues or solicit other voters while they are inside the polling place.

What if I'm still in line when the polls close? Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18