MAIL-IN BALLOTS COULD SWING VOTE
By John Capece, Glades County Democratic Party Vice Chair
With the Florida Legislature having reduced the number of days when citizens can cast their votes in some counties, mail-in ballots are a way that voters can still cast a ballot at their own convenience and make their voices heard in the 2012 election.
Unfortunately, even voters who used mail-in ballots as recently as 2010 won't be receiving them for 2012 unless they make a new request to their Supervisor of Elections office. Requests for mail-in ballots can be made by phone, in person or by mail.
Mail-in Ballots, also known as Absentee Ballots, Vote by Mail, or Convenience Voting are often the deciding factor in an election. Because of their growing importance, the outcome of next year's election could be decided at the kitchen tables of homes throughout Florida long before Election Day. In Hendry County, mail-in ballots were used by 14% or 897 out of the 6300 people who voted in the last general election. In Glades County it was even higher (18% or 468 of 2612).
The tactic of emphasizing mail-in ballots and tightening up registration, early voting, and mail-in request has proven to be part of a winning strategy for the Republican Party in recent years, but this year Democrats are making a push to sign up their party members for mail-in ballots as well.
Mail-in ballots offer a number of advantages. For one, we all know how difficult it is to read the long constitutional amendments listed on the ballot cards. A mail-in ballot gives voters a chance to read each item carefully, ponder the issues, and make choices without the pressures or rush of the voting booth. Mail-in ballots also allow parents to show their children the voting process and how to participate in our shared democracy.
Another benefit of submitting a mail-in ballot early is that candidate phone calls to a home end soon after computers record that a ballot has been received. The candidates and political parties take these voter names off their call lists and focus instead on those who may not have yet voted.
Because the Hendry and Glades County Democratic Executive Committees are members of the Florida Democratic Party's Small County Coalition, each is eligible for a small grant from the state party if one percent of the 16,000 Hendry and 6,200 Glades registered voters request absentee ballots prior to December 15, 2011. The Hendry and Glades County Democratic Parties use these grant monies to fund mailings and activities promoting local Democratic candidates.
To request a Mail-in Ballot, contact the County Supervisor of Elections in Glades County - Holly Whiddon at 863-946-6005 or firstname.lastname@example.org and in Hendry County - Lucretia Strickland at 863-675-5230 or email@example.com. For more information about mail-in voting and upcoming party meetings, contact the local Democratic Executive Committees at 239-245-9954 or info@GladesDemocrats.com / info@HendryDemocrats.com.