Pinellas County residents have set a new record in the number of requests for mail ballots.
Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark announced that mail ballot requests exceeded 300,000 as of Oct. 29, breaking the previous record of 258,606 ballot requests for the 2010 General Election and 45 percent more than the 206,803 requests for the 2008 General Election.
“This is a clear message from our voters that they prefer the convenience of mail ballots,” Clark said. “While 48 percent of our registered voters have chosen this method of voting, more than 145,000 have already returned their voted ballots. In fact, Pinellas County voters account for 10.7% of all mail ballots cast in the state.”
Unofficial turnout for Pinellas County through Oct. 28 was 24.2 percent, including mail ballots and early voting, while unofficial turnout statewide was 15.6 percent.
“There is no doubt that mail ballots increase turnout,” Clark said.
As of Oct. 30, 301,900 mail ballots had been requested, and 166,555 or 55.2 percent had been returned.
Voters may request a mailed ballot through Wednesday Oct. 31, online at www.votepinellas.com or by calling 464-VOTE (8683). Voters also can pick up ballots in any Elections Office through Election Day, Nov. 6. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Election Day to be counted and included in the final election results. Ballots cannot be returned to a polling location.
At the Oct. 30 Pinellas County Commission meeting, Commissioner Norm Roche, who serves on the elections Canvassing Committee, reminded residents that they must sign the back of the mail ballot envelope before returning it.
He also cautioned residents about wasting their vote. He said he had seen ballots where all the presidential candidates had been chosen except one, essentially canceling out the vote.
“Don’t make your point on the ballot,” he said. “Make the point in your ballot and let your vote count.”
He pointed to a recent election where the winner won by only nine votes.
In the first four days of early voting, 15,798 ballots were cast, or 8.66 percent of the total.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 general continues through Saturday, Nov. 3, at three locations around Pinellas. Voting locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Early voting locations are set up at the three county Elections offices.
- Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Road., Largo, Starkey Lakes Corporate Center
- Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater, first floor, north side
- County Building, 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg in the Annex Conference Room, entrance on Fifth Street
Voters can check early voting wait times online at www.votepinellas.com. Wait times will be listed for each location with green meaning a wait time of 20 minutes or less, yellow, 20 to 40 minutes, and red for 40 minutes or more.
Clark also reminded residents who have moved since the last election to update their address before going to the polls. Call 464-VOTE (8683) for more information.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, is the last day to take part in the general election that will decide the next president of the United States, and other federal, state and local leaders. Eleven state referendum questions are on the ballots, as well as a local school board question and municipal referendums.
At the end of the voter registration period on Oct. 9, 627,163 people were registered to vote in Pinellas County, including 226,199 Republicans and 233,580 Democrats and 167,163 listed as other. The totals mark an increase of 4,320 overall, and 860 additional Republicans, 1,833 more Democrats and 1,406 more listed as other.
As of Oct. 30, Republican voters continue to lead the way in the number of ballots cast at 73,828 to 72,560 for the Democrats and 35,965 other parties and write-in candidates.