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July 25 is the voter registration deadline to vote in Florida’s Aug. 23 primary election

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Next Monday, July 25, is the voter registration deadline for anyone looking to cast a ballot in Florida’s Aug. 23 primary election. Registering online at registertovoteflorida.gov is the quickest way to complete a voter registration. A Florida driver’s license or state ID and social security number are required. Those who don’t have one of those forms of identification can still register by completing a form from their county election supervisors’ office.

Residents looking to vote by mail in the primary have until 5 p.m. Aug. 13 to request an absentee ballot. In 2021, the Florida Legislature passed a law, (SB 90), which Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office Public Relations Officer Trish Robertson said had the biggest impact on voting by mail.

“One of the big impacts that Senate Bill 90 changed is how you request those vote-by-mail ballots. In the past you could provide that information over the phone. Now you have to provide either your driver’s license number, a state ID number ,or the last four digits of your social security number,” said Robertson.

“We did send out over 70,000 vote-by-mail ballots earlier last week, so that’s exciting for us.”

SB 90 also changed how absentee ballots can be returned. Drop boxes have been replaced by “secure ballot intake stations” that can only accept ballots Aug. 13 - 20 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the stations are monitored by county election workers. Aug. 13-20 is also the window for early voting in the primary election. Voters looking to send their ballots through the mail are advised to do so at least one week before the election.

For those looking to vote in person on election day, Robertson advises people to check their designated polling location and not to assume their precinct will be the same as it may have been in the past.

“We had a lot of changes after the 2020 Census happened. Collier County had tremendous growth and we had to add precincts. We also had to change precinct locations whether it was splitting a precinct in half because there were just too many voters moving in that area. And sometimes we lose polling locations because the facility cannot accommodate anymore,” said Robertson.

July 25 also marks the last day to make changes to a voter’s party affiliation. Although partisan primary races are closed, Robertson urges all registered voters of any or no party affiliation to cast a ballot.

“I just want to clarify, there’s a huge misconception that in order to participate in primary elections you have to be registered within one party or another,” said Robertson.

“There are going to be races on this ballot, of nonpartisan races, including school board, as well as some local referenda if you live in those areas, and then we do have a judge’s race. And it doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is in order to participate in that.”

Aside from voting, residents can participate by applying to be election workers with their county supervisor of elections office. Robertson said her office needs between 400 and 500 election workers for the primary and double that amount for the Nov. 8 general election.

“That is definitely something that is always a challenge with us every year. We do want individuals to volunteer if they’re able to. They can learn more by contacting our office. Right now, the struggle we have with primary elections is we tend to see a lot of our election workers head up north for the summer,” said Robertson.

“So, that’s always a challenge, trying to find the right number and the right individuals and work them into the process.”

On July 26, the Collier Supervisor of Elections Office will conduct accuracy testing of voting equipment.

“The public is invited to attend that as is the media. And that’s a great time for individuals to come learn about how elections are conducted,” said Robertson.

“And then we do, kind of a predetermined election in order to test the equipment. So, you’ll see our staff members pulling out equipment and demonstrating how they’re counting ballots accurately.”

The Collier and Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections offices are among 22 in Florida that are now using a new program called BallotTrax, which will alert voters about the status of their mail-in-ballot through email, text, or voice messages. BallotTrax is in addition to existing online ballot tracking that voters can access through their county supervisor of elections websites.

Aside from SB 90, another new change to voting in Florida is the creation of the Office of Election Crimes and Security within the State Department. Robertson said so far, the new election crimes agency hasn’t had an impact on local election operations.

“It’s one of those things that’s left to be seen,” said Robertson.

“Obviously, if this is something that builds confidence in our voters we support it, but at this point in time we’re not going to change our process unless we are otherwise directed to. Voter fraud is extremely rare in the state of Florida and even rarer in Collier County.”

Looking ahead, Oct. 11 is the deadline to register to vote in Florida’s Nov. 8 general election. Early voting for the general election will run from Oct. 24 to Nov. 5.

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