DECISION TIME

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Early voting in the primaries is now under way. Some local leaders are encouraging voters to mail in their ballots.

Early voting has begun in Florida. Elections officials say a number of safety measures have been put in place for the primary and general election.

TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

The 2020 primary election is Aug. 18, but voters can go ahead and cast their ballots now.

Early voting in Volusia County is from Saturday, Aug. 8, to Saturday Aug. 15. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In Flagler County, early voting runs Aug. 3 through Aug. 15. Polls are open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Early voting locations in Volusia County are at the following locations:

  • Daytona Beach Regional Library Center at City Island, 105 E. Magnolia Ave.
  • Volusia County Administration Building, 123 W. Indiana Ave., DeLand
  • Deltona City Commission Chambers, 2345 Providence Blvd.
  • Port Orange Regional Library, 1005 City Center Circle
  • New Smyrna Beach Regional Library,101 S. Dixie Freeway
  • Ormond Beach Regional Library, 30 S. Beach St.

Flagler County early voting locations are:

  • Supervisor of Elections Office, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg. 2, Suite 101, Bunnell
  • Flagler County Public Library, 2500 Palm Coast Pkwy NW, Palm Coast
  • Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Pkwy NE, Palm Coast

The deadline in Volusia County to order mail-in ballots for the Primary is Aug. 8. Flagler County’s deadline has passed.

Mail vote encouraged

Local political and social justice organizations are working hard to get people to vote, especially African Americans and minorities.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the focus is on absentee/mail-in ballots.

“We aren’t doing any public events like “Souls to the Polls” for early voting. We are encouraging vote by mail. We want voters to follow guidelines set by the CDC, said Cynthia Slater, president of the Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP.

“We’ll be monitoring. We’ll have on masks. We encourage people to wear mask and practice safety measures. COVID-19 is serious.’’

Reaching out

The Elected Minority Officials of Volusia County has teamed up with Equal Grounds to get people to vote.

“COVID-19 has hit minority communities hard. We don’t want people risking their health. We’re pushing vote by mail,’’ stated Mario Davis, executive director of the Minority Elected Officials.

“We are using data to see who have and have not voted in the past two elections that are Black and Minority. We are reaching out by phone banking to get them out to vote. We’re reaching out to all voters.’’

According to the website equalground.com, Equal Ground is a community-centered organization engaging the rising American electorate through equal access to education
about voting and empowerment.

‘The new normal’

The hope is that the voting-by-mail push will address the issue of voter apathy.

“We hope that vote by mail will pick up and increase voter turnouts. I’ve been in touch with the Supervisor of Elections and it seems to be going well,” said Slater.

Davis added, “I think it can help. We have to get used to the new normal of voting that way. Historically, Black people have gone to the polls. We are prioritizing vote by mail.

“Once people realize how simple, efficient, and safe it is, they will start voting that way. Over time, it would become the new normal to get the minority vote out past the 30 to 40 percent turnout rates.”

Safety measures

The Supervisor of Elections Office has safety measures in place at polling locations to combat coronavirus, including the following:

Voter check-in stations are spread out to ensure social distancing.

All poll workers will have masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.

Each voter will sign a printed checkin ticket and use an individual wrapped pen provided by the Elections Office. Those pens may be used to mark the voters’ ballot at the voting booth.

All voters’ booths will be spaced out and regularly sanitized.

Plexiglass shields are at voting check-in stations.

All polling sites will have sanitizer, cleaners, wipes and other cleaning supplies for check-in and booths.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own sanitizer, mask, and pen.

In Volusia County, voters can only choose candidates for the political party in which they are registered. Also, in elections for local offices if, a candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the candidate wins that office and doesn’t have to run in the primary.

The general election is on Nov. 3. The deadline to register to vote in that election is Oct. 5.

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