The off-year elections are still nine months away – but voting is very much on many minds – from accusations of ineligible voter lists or Russian involvement in the country’s electoral process, to a state Supreme Court’s mandated redrawing of Congressional districts because of gerrymandering.
This upcoming election cycle – and how to encourage a robust turnout of voters – brought members of The Villages/Tri-County League of Women Voters and the public to the Chapter’s Monday meeting, to learn about Florida’s recently implemented Online Voter Registration system.
Guest speakers were Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Bill Keen and Assistant Supervisor Traci Oliver.
They described the new registration process and how information is initially verified by the state and then forwarded to each county.
They also answered a wide range of questions ranging from how to request to vote by mail (formerly called an absentee ballot); how counties inform each other when a resident establishes a new residence; and the reliability of paper ballots. Regarding the latter, Keen noted that Florida is a paper ballot state, and that his office retains all ballots for 22 months following every election.
The new online voter registration system enables eligible voters to register or update their existing registration record at the website – sumterelections.gov — in English or in Spanish. They’ll need the issued date of their Florida driver’s license or State-issued identification card, as well as the last four digits of their Social Security Number.
In order to be eligible to vote, applicants must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a legal resident of Florida and the county in which they seek to be registered
- Be a least 18 years old
- Not be a person who has been adjudicated mental incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or in any other state without having the right to vote restored; and
- Not be a person who has been convicted of a felony without your civil rights having been restored.
Florida joins 35 other states offering online voter registration
Keen has been Supervisor of Elections since January 2017. Previously he was chairman of the Sumter County Republican Executive Committee, and had served as chairman of the County’s Industrial Development Authority. In 2015, he had been named the county’s Business Man of the Year.
Keen pointed out that Sumter has 92,937 voters. Approximately 50,000 are registered as Republicans; 22,000 list a Democratic affiliation; while another 19,000 are listed as “other.”
Today’s program is one of our several initiatives where we offer an unbiased viewpoint with a goal to educate and advocate about issues that voters will face during upcoming elections,” explained Beth Hicks, chapter president. “Last year, we reached some 700 people through our speakers’ bureau program.
“The Chapter, started in 2005, reached full league membership status three years ago. Today, its 70 members distribute voting guides and sponsor ‘meet and greet’ receptions and candidate forums throughout Sumter and Lake counties,” she continued.
More information about local League activities is available at www.lwvtrifl.org.