Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Opinion

Celebrate independence by being ready to vote

July 4th is celebrated widely as the commemoration of our independence, establishing our great country and transforming us from colonists to citizens of the United States of America. As is so eloquently stated in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.''

What better day than Independence Day to think about voting and exercising our freedom — an inalienable right and responsibility of all U.S. citizens that should never be taken lightly.

The rights and responsibilities as a voter are outlined in Florida Statutes. These include: Having your vote counted accurately; receiving assistance; casting a provisional ballot should your identity or registration be in question and voting free of coercion or intimidation.

With these rights comes the responsibility to be an informed and engaged voter. Familiarize yourself with the candidates and issues on the ballot. In this technological age, there are more resources available than ever before. Also, be sure your address is current with the Supervisor of Elections Office. Know the location of your polling place, bring proper identification to the polls, treat poll workers courteously, respect others privacy, report any problems and most importantly, ask questions if needed and make sure your ballot is completed before leaving the polling location.

The primary election is Aug. 26 and the general election is Nov. 4. This year, citizens will be casting ballots to decide the races for governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, commissioner of agriculture, county commissioners, school board members, and legislative and judicial representation. There also are three proposed amendments to our Florida Constitution. These important decisions affect us all and should not be made by a few.

On Independence Day, our message is to encourage all eligible voters to share in the responsibility. I promise that your right to vote and have your voice heard will be protected within the fullest extent of the law. If you need assistance, visit pascovotes.com. There is information there about updating your registration, requesting a vote-by-mail ballot, polling locations voting hours, early voting and links to other resources. You also can call 1-800-851-8754 for information.

Brian Corley is supervisor of elections for Pasco County.

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