Michael Bennett: Consider voting by mail for its convenience

September 15, 2013 

In the 2012 presidential election 30 percent of Manatee county voters chose to vote by absentee ballot, or what is now known as "vote by mail." Some misconceptions surround vote by mail. For example, in some states it is only permitted by those registered voters in the military, with a disability, or in the hospital.

In Florida, however, voting by mail is available to all registered voters! Voters are not required to provide a reason or to be absent from the county on Election Day to take advantage of this convenient way to cast their vote.

Vote by mail ballots may be requested for a specific election or for all elections through two general election cycles. If you change your mind, you can cancel your request at any time.

This request can be made in person at the Supervisors of Elections Office, by phone or by going to our website at www.VoteManatee.com. I recommend that every registered voter consider this convenient option. (You vote in the convenience of your home and avoid any lines during early voting or at the polls on Election Day).

Another misconception of vote by mail is that these ballots may not be counted. Not true! These ballots are tabulated or processed first, up to 15 days prior to the Election Day.

An interesting story: On Election Day June 18, we had a voter run from his car into our office with his "vote by mail" envelope in hand seconds before 7 p.m.

Our front desk deputy literally ran to the date stamp machine to be sure it was checked in before 7 p.m. That's the beauty of vote by mail, you can mail it or hand-deliver it up to 7 p.m. on Election Day to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

During this past election, as a part of the canvassing board for the first time, I witnessed first hand the effort that is made to verify a voter's signature. One difficulty is when a voter's signature cannot be verified because it doesn't match the signature we have on file. This is why it is so important for voters to keep their signatures current.

To update your signature, provide the Supervisor of Elections Office with a voter registration application indicating a record change/signature update.

This can be done at any time throughout the year. You can obtain a registration application online at www.VoteManatee.com, or call and request one by mail at 941-741-3823, or pick one up at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office at 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton.

If you are not registered to vote, I encourage you to do so and to familiarize yourself with the candidates and issues so you can make sure your voice is heard. I can be reached at 941-741-3823 or by email at Mike@VoteManatee.com with questions or comments.

Michael Bennett, is the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.

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