Final local preparations made for Election Day
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012 at 9:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 5, 2012 at 9:33 p.m.
After months of planning, the local arms of the nation's warring political parties and the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office worked throughout Monday on last-minute Election Day preparations.
If you need a ride to the polls, call:
Alachua County Democratic Party: 352-373-1730
Alachua County Republican Party: 352-275-5003
The Supervisor of Elections Office downtown was bustling Monday as the clerks running the county's polling sites dropped in to pick up supplies that ranged from ballot-entry machines to black voting markers. Office staff verified their paperwork and ensured that all equipment was sealed and ready to go before handing them over, Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter said.
Office phones were ringing Monday as voters called to update their addresses before Election Day. Carpenter suggested people make those updates before going to vote in case their precinct changes.
Registered voters planning to cast their ballots today in-person should bring a valid picture identification with signature. Acceptable IDs include a driver's license, passport, state-issued ID card, military or student ID, debit or credit card, and public assistance, neighborhood association or retirement center ID. The precincts are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To locate your precinct, visit www.votealachua.com and click "My Voter Information Page."
Supervisor of Elections staff members were still counting incoming absentee ballots Monday, which will be accepted until 7 p.m. today. This alternative provides a safety net for voters unable to make it to the polls, Carpenter said.
This year, Alachua County voters broke a local record with 32,355 requests for absentee ballots as of Monday afternoon. Just over 23,000 absentee ballots were returned in 2008, and this election has already surpassed that figure, she said.
Although lines weren't an issue in 2008, Carpenter said she expected some to form at the polling places today because of this election cycle's shortened early voting period. The Republican-dominated state Legislature downsized Florida's early-voting period to eight days instead of keeping 2008's 14-day total.
More than 39,000 Alachua County residents voted early this time compared to the approximately 53,000 people who voted early in 2008, she said.
While the Supervisor of Elections Office prepped for the polls Monday, the Alachua County Democratic and Republican parties focused on their final campaign push.
Stafford Jones, chairman of the Alachua County Republican Party, said volunteers were doubling down on phone calls and door-knocking Monday to contact as many Republican voters as possible.
At this point, getting out the vote is what matters for both the presidential and local races, Jones said.
"It's moving Republicans to the polls," he said. "It benefits the entire ticket."
The party also was gearing up for poll-watching Monday, which its volunteers will do today at the county's various precincts. These volunteers are primarily observing the polling clerks to ensure the process is managed appropriately, he said.
Jon Reiskind, chairman of the Alachua County Democratic Party, said Democratic volunteers also will be on poll-watch duty. But they will be focused on checking which local Democrats have voted so they can call any stragglers to encourage them to vote.
Watching for voter fraud isn't as much of a priority for his party as it is for its Republican counterpart, said Reiskind, who spent Monday working his way through his neighborhood to ask people to vote. Democratic poll-watchers will report potential fraud if they notice it, but it isn't their primary focus.
"That is such a rare event," he said. "It's like looking out for meteorites."
Democratic volunteers also will welcome voters at the precincts and distribute sample ballots with the party's recommendations for the various races.
"Too many people vote only for the president and forget to vote the rest of the ballot," he said.
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or email@example.com.
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