Jackson County Times

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do You Know where To Go To Vote?

Voter Information Cards Mailed With New Polling Location Changes

Sylvia D. Stephens, Supervisor of Elections, and her staff began preparing for the 2010 fall elections well over a year ago. The Florida Legislature passed a bill in 2007 requiring that all voting, including voting by individuals with disabilities, be by marksense paper ballot and must be in place by the 2012 elections. “Jackson County currently uses the marksense paper ballot so we won’t need to buy all new voting equipment.” Stephens explained, “We have the touchscreen voting equipment available for persons with a disability and those will have to be replaced with new ADA compliant equipment that uses a marksense paper ballot.” Voting equipment that is ADA compliant must be available in each polling location and early voting site.

One proposal that Ms. Stephens worked on was to consolidate several of the county’s 25 polling locations. The Board of County Commissioners approved a plan that has decreased the number of polling locations to fourteen. This move will initially save the county taxpayers $60,000 on the purchase of the new equipment. Stephens also estimates a $3,200 annual savings in equipment maintenance costs and savings of $8,800 or more on poll worker salaries each election year.

The following is a list of the new precinct changes:

1 – Malone City Hall

2 – Campbellton Community Center

3 – Citizen’s Lodge

4 – Alford Community Center

5 – Cypress Park

6 – County Commissioner’s Admin. Bldg.

7 – Eastside Baptist Church

8 – Shady Grove Methodist Church

9 – Grand Ridge Community Center

10 – Welcome Assembly of God Church

11 – Sneads City Hall

12 – Cottondale Community Center

13 – Greenwood Town Hall

14 – Graceville Civic Center

The reduction in polling locations is not the only change. Two more early voting sites have been added for the convenience of all voters. Any registered Jackson County voter will be able to vote two weeks prior to an election at the Supervisor of Elections’ office in Marianna, Graceville City Hall or Sneads City Hall. In the past several elections, 52% of the county’s voters have elected to vote early instead of waiting until Election Day.

New Voter Information Cards are being mailed to voters who had a precinct or polling place change. The cards contain the voter’s polling location address, district information and personal information. They are for information only and do not need to be shown when voting. When voting, Florida law requires that a voter present a current and valid picture and signature identification, such as a Florida Driver’s License or Identification card. If a voter does not have one, he or she is allowed to vote a provisional ballot.

Stephens commented, “I realize any change in a voter’s polling place brings some criticism, but I feel that our citizens will see the positive side of these changes. I think it is incumbent upon me as a public servant to look at wise and cost effective options when making decisions that affect the entire county.” The polling place consolidation will provide a significant savings to the county and the new early voting sites will provide more convenient opportunities for the voters. The Supervisor of Elections’ office will also provide any voter an absentee ballot when requested by the voter or an immediate family member. The most popular choice is to have the absentee ballot mailed to the voter.

You may acquire more information at their webpage www.jacksoncountysoe.org, stop by their office at 2851 Jefferson St. in Marianna or call them at 482-9652.

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