It’s that time again, Alachua County voters!
The 2020 election cycle has officially begun, meaning we are quickly approaching the presidential preference primary and city of Gainesville regular election. Election Day is March 17.
Florida is a closed primary state, so during primary contests, voters may only vote for candidates with whom they share a party affiliation. In other words, a Democrat will only see Democratic candidates on their ballot, and a Republican will only see Republican candidates on their ballot. The deadline to change parties or register to vote in this election has passed — it was Feb. 18.
Additionally, all voters who live within the city of Gainesville will also be able to make their choice for Gainesville City Commission At Large Seat 2. Those who live in Districts 2 and 3 will also see their additional district contest.
I encourage you to research the candidates. Presidential primaries are important, but it is imperative to be informed about local elections as well. Be aware of what the offices have control or influence over, and recognize the power you have in selecting those who serve in office.
Voters have three options for participating in these elections: vote-by-mail, early voting and voting on Election Day.
To vote by mail, you should request a vote-by-mail ballot at VoteAlachua.com/MBRS or by calling our office at 352-374-5252. Voting by mail is a convenient and secure way to cast your ballot, and everyone is welcome to use this method. Vote-by-mail ballots for Alachua County have prepaid return postage, and you still get an “I Voted” sticker. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for this election is 5 p.m. March 7.
I recommend voters mail back their ballots at least a week before Election Day so that the ballots can get back to our office in time. This also gives our office time to contact voters who need to correct any issues, and all vote-by-mail ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Voters who believe their signatures may have changed over time should complete a new voter registration application so our office has your updated signature on file. Make sure to get the signature update in before your vote-by-mail ballot, however.
Early voting is another convenient option for voters who cannot get to the polls on Election Day, or are just eager to cast their vote. For this election, early voting will take place from March 6 to March 14 every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are six early voting locations around Alachua County to make this process easy for voters.
Voters may participate in early voting at any of the following locations: Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, Tower Road Branch Library, Millhopper Branch Library, Legacy Park Multipurpose Center, Orange Heights Baptist Church and the J. Wayne Reitz Union. Voters can only use these locations for early voting. On Election Day, you must vote at your assigned polling location.
Again, Election Day is March 17. Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can find where your voting precinct is by going to VoteAlachua.com or by calling 352-374-5252.
I am looking forward to serving you this election season. If you have any questions or want more information on elections, don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is email@example.com and the number here is 352-374-5252.
Kim A. Barton is Alachua County supervisor of elections.