In the United States, voting is a right. However, in order to exercise this right, every voter in Hillsborough County must be informed and must 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 July 30 for the Primary which is set for August 28. You must be registered by October 9 for the General Election which will be held on November 6. When you register, you are asked to select a party. That would be either Republican or Democrat or No Party Affiliation or one of the minor political parties. To register, visit registertovoteflorida.gov. To check your Voter Status, visit registration.elections.myflorida.com/CheckVoterStatus
Florida is a closed primary state. This means that for the Primary Election, 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) and School Board.
In the General Election, your ballot is based upon where you reside.
You can view sample ballots for both the Primary and the General Election at www.votehillsborough.org. “One of the most important things we can do to conduct a successful election is to make sure that voting is easy and accessible for all voters,” said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer.
VOTE BY MAIL
Vote By Mail is the most convenient method. It is often referred to as Absentee Voting. However, 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. You must request you Vote By Mail ballot by August 22 for the Primary Election and by October 31 for the General Election.
“We pay the return postage on Vote By Mail ballots and have drop off boxes for those ballots at all of our Early Voting sites and offices, to make that as easy as possible,” said Latimer. If you choose this method, please visit www.votehillsborough.org for instructions.
Early Voting is set up before both the Primary Election and the General Election. This year, Early Voting will take place for the Primary (August 28) from August 13 through August 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For the General Election (November 6), Early Voting will take place from October 22 through November 4 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In Hillsborough County, there will be 19 Early Voting sites open. “For our 2018 elections, we have added three new Early Vote sites. During the Early Voting period, voters can vote at any of the 19 voting sites,” said Latimer. The new sites include the Valrico Recreation Center which was added to ease congestion at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library. Please 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. to 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. “On Election Day, voters must vote in the polling place assigned to their precinct. Remember, Election Day is your last chance to vote. Because the majority of voters will have voted during the Early Voting period, we do not expect lines in the Election Day polling places,” said Latimer.
For more information, please visit www.votehillsborough.org.