I would like to caution voters about hurrying to fill out their Vote by Mail ballots for the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary.


Tuesday is the last day to register or change party affiliation for this primary.


The ballots for the Presidential Preference Primary were printed in early January with all qualified candidates for president at that time. They are not reprinted or updated with each candidate who suspends his or her campaign. Voters need to stay informed as to who is still running when voting their ballot, whether by mail, early voting or at the polls on election day.


Currently at this writing, there are 16 Democratic and four Republican candidates on the ballot for the March 17 Presidential Preference Primary. Already, five Democrats and one Republican have suspended their campaigns, and more may do so in the coming weeks.


Be smart. Do the research on the candidate that gets your vote.


Let me share a lesson from my own experience. In the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary, I voted my mail-in ballot and submitted it ASAP. Then the candidate I voted for dropped out of the race just a few days later, so my vote was effectively wasted.


Voters may wish to wait to return their ballots until after Super Tuesday, March 3, when the field typically settles down a bit. However, the important message I wish to convey is that staying informed is a voter’s best bet to make sure his or her vote counts. Be election ready!


Michael Bennett is the Manatee County supervisor of elections.