It’s a big day, and an important decision to be made, as Pinellas County joins the rest of the nation in deciding who will be the President of the United States.
Local voters also will decide who will serve in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well who will represent them in the state Legislature. The jobs of three Supreme Court Justices are on the line. Floridians will decide if 11 state charter amendments pass by checking yes or no on their ballot.
Pinellas County residents also will decide who will be sheriff for the next four years. Three seats on the Pinellas County Commission are up for grabs. The Supervisor of Elections is facing a challenger.
Residents will mark yes or no on continuing a special ad valorem tax that pays for needs of the school district. Two runoff elections for spots on the school board appear in two districts.
Several municipalities and special districts have candidate races and referendums on the ballot.
The ballot is four pages long, and each voter will receive two ballot cards. Residents are reminded to vote the front and backs. Elections officials estimate that it takes an average of 25 to 30 minutes to read.
State law requires that a citizen vote in the precinct in which they reside. Residents who have moved are required to vote in their new home precinct. In addition, some polling place locations have changed. Voters are encouraged to confirm their polling places by visiting www.votepinellas.com or calling 727-464-VOTE (8683).
Elections officials remind residents to bring photo and signature identification with them to the polls, if possible to avoid delays and extra paperwork. Anyone without valid and current ID may vote a provisional ballot. The canvassing board will later determine the validity of any provisional ballots.
A change in election law now requires that address changes from another Florida county made at the polls require the voter to vote a provisional ballot, except for active military voters and their families. It is important to have a current signature on file.
Mail ballots may still be picked up or voted in person at any Elections Office through Election Day. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Nov. 6, at any of the three Elections Offices or ballot drop-off locations to be counted. Mail ballots cannot be accepted at a precinct polling place.
Fourteen drop-off locations are available through 7 p.m. Election Day. Check for locations and hours at www.votepinellas.com.
A voter who requests a mail ballot but later decides to vote at the polling place may bring the ballot to the polling place to be canceled. They will receive a new ballot to vote at the polls.
No political activity or campaign signs are allowed inside the polling place or within 100 feet of the polling place entrance. Exit polling is permitted in designated areas as voters are leaving the polls. No photography is allowed inside the polling place.
Before the polls open on Election Day, Nov. 6, an estimated 41.85 percent of the county’s 626,348 registered voters already had cast their ballot either by mail or during early voting.
According to unofficial turnout numbers posted at votepinellas.com, 39,566 took part in early voting, about 15 percent of the ballots submitted thus far. Nearly 85 percent, or 223,221, returned a mail ballot. An additional 167 voted a provisional ballot.
Pinellas County residents requested a record 307,764 mail ballots as of Nov. 5, and 72.5 percent had been returned. The previous record of 258,606 ballot requests was set during the 2010 general election.
As of Nov. 5, 104,318 of the 233,325 registered Democrats had submitted ballots. Of the 226,010 Republicans, 103,700 had voted. In addition, 54,936 of the 167,013 registered as other party affiliation has cast their ballot.
Unofficial numbers are only of ballots cast, not counted. Votes will not be counted until the polls close at 7 p.m.
Check back with TBNweekly.com later tonight to see how Pinellas residents voted compared to the rest of the state and the nation, and find out who is ahead in the local races.
The results won’t be official until the Canvassing Board meets. The deadline to provide evidence of eligibility for those who voted a provisional ballot is 5 p.m. Nov. 8.