Thomas Jefferson once said, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
We have a busy election cycle approaching quickly, with the primary election on Aug. 24 and the general election on Nov. 2. We as citizens have an opportunity to select those who govern us and the power to make our voices heard. We live in a representative democracy, and we elect those persons empowered to make decisions for all of us.
We have contests ranging from the U.S. Senate to state and local races as well as proposed amendments to our state constitution. We have heard that this is the election cycle where voters have awakened and will come out in droves to shake things up. While my wish is that every registered voter exercises his or her precious right and responsibility this summer and fall, history tells us that we can expect about a 20 percent turnout for the primary election and maybe a 50 percent turnout for the general election.
As your supervisor of elections, I take the responsibility of encouraging citizens to vote very seriously. Our veterans have crossed oceans to fight for our democracy and freedom while others won't cross the street to vote. I often remind our citizens that "freedom requires responsibility." These three powerful words are meant to inspire and motivate our citizens to get involved by voting on Election Day.
The beauty of America is that we all have various opinions about candidates and issues, but as Americans we all have a duty to vote and come together afterward.
All voters — Democrats, Republicans, third party supporters and voters with no party affiliation — have a stake in this election: Our future! With three convenient ways to vote — by mail, early voting or by voting on Election Day — there is no excuse to not to perform your civic duty.
By law, Florida is a closed primary state, which means voters can only vote in the primary of the party they registered with. Only candidates of your registered party will be on your ballot. Nonpartisan voters will vote only on judges, school board members and issues that are on the ballot. Changing parties at the polls on Election Day is not permissible pursuant to Florida statute.
We have added some new features to better serve voters in this election cycle. Our website, www.pascovotes.com, allows voters to check their registration status, find directions and a map to their polling place, track the status of their vote by mail ballot (from the date ordered to the date we receive the sealed ballot), and find wait times at our seven early voting sites. On election night, it will allow voters to view sample ballots, voter turnout and results.
The last day to register to vote in a primary or to change party affiliation is July 26. Early voting begins Aug. 9 and concludes Aug. 21. Early voting hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Locations can be found by clicking on the early voting link at pascovotes.com. The last day to request a vote by mail or to have an absentee ballot mailed to you is 5 p.m. Aug. 18. Voting hours on Aug. 24 are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Let's reverse the trend and encourage our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to make their voice heard this election cycle. We are ready to assist you.
Brian Corley is Pasco supervisor of elections.