31 October 2008

Four Steps to Voting in Pinellas County on Election Day

Election Day is just a few days away!

With 2008 being a year we elect a new President of the United States as well as a sizeable number of state and local officials, not to mention the amendments to the Florida Constitution. As you probably know, Florida allows early voting or voting absentee by mail because it helps alleviate congestion at the polls on Election Day.

Now we got Election Day – 4 November 2008 – just around the corner I imagine the polls will be crowded with people like you and I exercising our rights as an American citizen: The right to vote. In Pinellas County there are four steps to the voting process and you can do your part to make the voting experience go smooth for you.

Most important step:

Bring a picture and signature identification to the polls on Election Day! Doing so will help with a smooth voting experience and help you get in and out of the polling place in the shortest time possible. According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, the following is acceptable picture and signature ID at the polls:

Florida Driver License
Florida Identification Card
United States Passport
Debit or credit card
Student or Military ID
Retirement Center ID
Neighborhood Association ID
Public Assistance ID

Note that if your photo ID does not have a signature, another ID bearing your signature has to be presented. Many years ago, the Supervisor of Elections used to issue Voter Identification cards; today this is not the case as the cards issued are now Voter Information cards.

If you do not have any ID on you when you go the polls, you can still vote. However, you will have to vote on a provisional ballot which will be evaluated by the Canvassing Board to determine voter eligibility. Having your ID with you is the best – a Florida Driver License, Florida Identification Card or United States Passport is the best.

Now that you have your required photo and signature ID with you, let’s go to the polls and cast your vote!

The Pinellas County Four-Step at the polls:

Let’s go through the four steps of voting a ballot at the polls in Pinellas County on Election Day! Once you arrive at the polls, you will be greeted at the front door by a poll worker whose job is to maintain order in the polling place. The poll worker will direct you to the table to begin Step 1.

Step 1: This is the voter check in station. Here you will show the poll worker your ID and prove that your address is correct. If everything is OK then you will be directed to sign the precinct register in the space provided. After that the poll worker will give you a yellow ticket to take to Step 2.

Step 2: This is where you will receive your ballot. On the yellow ticket you received in Step 1, check to see that everything is accurate. If so, sign the yellow ticket in the space provided and fill in the oval. Hand in the ticket to the poll worker who will exchange it for your ballot, a black ballpoint pen and a secrecy envelope. Proceed with all three items to Step 3.

Step 3: Step on over to any one of the empty voting booths and complete your ballot. Make sure that you completely fill in the oval next to your selection with the black ballpoint pen provided to you in Step 2. If you make a mistake – no problem, just see the poll worker back at Step 2 for a replacement ballot. When you are finished, review your selections on your ballot and, when you are ready, proceed on to Step 4 to wrap up the voting process.

Step 4: This is the optical scanner machine where you will feed in your ballot. A poll worker is stationed at this step to assist you in using the optical scanner. What you will do is to feed in your ballot into the slot on the optical scanner. If your ballot is marked correctly, the optical scanner will take your ballot, record your votes and deposit it in a locked and secured ballot box.

Once your ballot is successfully accepted, return the secrecy envelope and the black ballpoint pen you were given in Step 2 to the poll worker.

If you run into any difficulties, by all means ask the poll worker for help.

REMEMBER: Make your ballot selections very carefully! Once your ballot is fed into the optical scanner and it is accepted and your votes recorded, YOUR BALLOT CANNOT BE RETRIEVED!

Finally, collect your “I Voted” sticker from the poll worker as you exit. Now you have completed the Pinellas County Four-Step and you can be proud of yourself!

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