The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections has dramatically reduced the number of locations where people can vote. The same is true of neighboring Manatee County.
Sarasota, like most counties across the U.S., is hurting for revenue. The major downturn in real-estate values has forced cities and counties to look for ways to conserve revenue. A major scale back in services has been the result. At the same time, there has been a dramatic shift by individuals in the use of absentee ballots. Oregon is the first state in the U.S. to exclusively hold its elections by mail. In 1998, as a result of a citizens’ initiative, almost 70% of the voters approved the vote-by-mail system as the only voting access available to voters.
I switched to using absentee ballots a few years ago; I wasn’t going to be in town on Election Day, and I wanted to be sure I voted. After that initial absentee ballot, the office of the Supervisor of Elections continued to send absentee ballots to me.
I discovered that it was much better to avoid standing in long lines under the hot sun or in the rain. I experienced an added benefit in that I could better study ballot issues in depth and understand the ramifications of the vote from the comfort of an easy chair.
This is going to be a difficult year for voters. Two distinct ideologies are at work. Aside from the innuendo, exaggerations and misleading information, when you get down to it, there are distinct differences between the presidential candidates and parties.
As it happens, each candidate has strong and weak points. It will take some time to decide whether each man is as evil as he is made out to be or whether his policies are as problematic as portrayed. Tough decisions will have to be made before one votes.
Don’t let the reduced number of polling outlets dissuade you from voting. Make sure you get an absentee ballot early, and make your vote count. You will be impacted by the outcome.
If no other issue demands your attention, be aware that the next president will likely name one or more candidates to the Supreme Court. There are important cases in the works that could change or modify current policy. The result is law that will impact your life.
This upcoming election is too important for you to pass up. Study the issues and make your voice heard. America has been the shining light to democracy in the world. That is, despite the fact that far too few Americans vote. This can be remedied in a number of ways.
Election Day in most countries is a day when most eligible voters do not work. Most Europeans, for instance, go to the polls on a Sunday. If Oregon can successfully have voting by mail, we, as individuals, can certainly take advantage of this option.
Thanks to absentee balloting, the County Election Commission is actually making it easier to vote. Times are changing. A great percentage of banking is done online. Newspapers are read online. People are giving up phones that have land-based lines. Many people have virtual offices and work from home. Some companies are actually “virtual” in concept.
We, as individuals, can change, too. We may actually prefer absentee balloting. For those of us in Florida, elections are held at the beginning of season. Do we really need an extra spin in our cars? Hopefully, we will discover that there is a higher turnout for elections as a result. There are no excuses. Make that call.
In Florida you can sign up for absentee ballots when you register at the auto license registration office. You can also register by going online at http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/vote.html .
Let’s remember that voting is democracy at work.
Carol Green is the co-founder of Bradenton-based First America Bank and active in several local philanthropic causes, including the Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services center.