By Kathy L. Collins

Voting is a right. In order to exercise this right, every voter in Hillsborough County needs to know where to vote and how to do it. There are three methods-vote by mail, early voting and election day voting. In order to vote, you must be registered by Monday, August 1 for the primary and by Tuesday, October 11 for the general election. When you register, you are asked to select a party-Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Non-Partisan.

For the primary election, Florida is a closed primary state. This means that your ballot will reflect the party that you have selected. In other words, you vote only for the candidates from your party as well as non-partisan races such as judge (county and circuit), school board and amendment 4.

In the general election, your ballot is based upon where you live.

You can view sample ballots for both the primary and the general election at www.votehillsborough.org. “With three methods of voting, it could not be easier to make your voice heard in Hillsborough County,” said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer.

VOTE BY MAIL

Vote by mail is the most convenient method. This was previously known as absentee voting, but Floridians no longer need an excuse to choose this option. If you request this method, you will receive your ballot in the mail, and you can take your time making your voting decision. The vote by mail ballot must be received by the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m.
on Election Day. You can mail it or drop it off in person at one of their offices or at an early voting site. Rest assured, if you choose this method, your vote will be counted.

“Vote by mail has become increasingly popular and is the most convenient way to vote, and we even pay the return postage,” said Latimer. “Vote by mail and early voting results are the first to be reported on election night. No matter which voting method you choose, your vote will be counted.”

Visit www.votehillsborough.org for instructions.

EARLY VOTING

Early voting is set up before both the primary and the general election. This year, early voting will take place for the primary (August 30) from August 15 through 28. For the general election (November 8), early voting will take place from October 24 through November 6.

In Hillsborough County, there will be 16 early voting sites open. Visit www.votehillsborough.org for a complete list and the times they are open.

Early voting is just like Election Day voting. You must bring one or two forms of identification with your photo and signature on it. Acceptable forms of identification include Florida driver’s license, state issued identification, U.S. passport, student ID, Public Assistance ID and more.

ELECTION DAY VOTING

Polling places, or precinct, noted on your voter registration card, are open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day.

You can bring your sample ballot with you and use it while you vote.

Whichever method you choose, remember your vote counts.

For more information, visit www.votehillsborough.org.