By LOIS KINDLE
The 2020 General Election is less than five weeks away, so if you plan to vote and haven’t registered, the deadline for doing so is Oct. 5. And if you’ve moved since the last time you voted, you need to update your information by that date, as well.
You can register online at www.votehillsborough.org/VOTERS/Registering-to-Vote or obtain a form at any of the following agencies: any county Supervisor of Elections office, driver’s license office, public libraries, offices serving people with disabilities, armed forces recruitment offices or centers for independent living.
Here are some other important dates you should know:
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, early voting begins Monday, Oct. 19 and ends Sunday, Nov. 1. Absentee (mail-in) ballots must be RECEIVED, NOT POSTMARKED by the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Postage is paid in Hillsborough County.
“We had more than 355,000 ballots go out Sept. 24,” said Gerri Kramer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office chief communications officer. “People can still request one until Oct. 24, but they shouldn’t wait that long. If you plan to mail it back in, it will be too late.”
You should allow at least a week for ballots to arrive via the mail; the earlier they’re returned, the better.
If you’re concerned about using the postal service, you can drop off your mail-in ballot in a secure, curbside ballot box at any Hillsborough County Regional Elections Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 to 18, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 19 to Nov. 1 at any of the 26 early voting sites, including the regional offices.
Nov. 2 or on Election Day, mail-in ballots may only be dropped off from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at any of the four regional offices.
“It’s a nice option,” Kramer said. “You can get your ballot at home and then drop it off.”
Early, in-person voting sites in South Shore include the Apollo Beach Recreation Center, 664 Golf and Sea Blvd., Apollo Beach; 5405 Providence Road, Riverview; Riverview Branch Library, 10509 Riverview Drive; SouthShore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin; and the Supervisor of Elections Southeast Regional Office, 10020 U.S. 301 S, Riverview. All will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 19 through Nov. 1.
During early voting, registered voters can cast their ballots at any early voting site in the county. A complete list is available at www.votehillsborough.org/VOTERS/Early-Voting.
The elections office is proactively taking steps to keep in-person voters healthy. Each site will have signs or decals to keep everyone social distanced from each other, and equipment will be wiped down regularly. The number of folks permitted inside will be limited. Privacy booths and check-in tables will be spread out, touch points limited and all voters will get their own pen to take home with them.
Due to the pandemic, some sites have changed, so don’t assume you know where you’re supposed to go.
Election Day voting MUST BE DONE in the polling place assigned to your precinct. You can find yours on your voter registration card.
You can also find this information at https://www.votehillsborough.org/VOTERS/Voting-Precincts.
Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re in line at 7 p.m., you’ll be allowed to vote; otherwise, you will not.
One or two forms of identification that include your signature and photo must be shown by every voter. If your photo ID does not include your signature, a second ID that does will be required.
Without proper identification, you may vote provisionally and have your ballot later evaluated by a canvassing board for eligibility.
Any of the following forms of photo identification are acceptable: a Florida Driver License; Florida ID Card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; U.S. Passport; debit or credit card; military ID card, student ID; retirement center ID; neighborhood association ID; public assistance ID; Veteran Health ID issued by the VA; Concealed Weapon License issued pursuant to s. 790.06; and a government employee ID.
The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections is a Governor’s Sterling Award recipient for its standards of excellence, superior management and high performance.
“There’s a lot of information swirling around out there, and voters can trust their Supervisor of Elections Office to get their questions answered,” Kramer said. “We want them to have confidence in our entire process. Our vision is to be the best place in America to vote.”
Call 813-744-5900, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.votehillsborough.org/.