Sample ballots in the mail

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Levy County's more than 25,092 registered voters are receiving their sample ballots this week and are facing a tough choice: Do they request an absentee ballot to save fuel, vote early at the Supervisor of Elections Office in Bronson, or vote the day of the election?

Supervisor of Elections Connie Asbell says her office has new equipment this year that makes handling absentee and early voting for the Aug. 26 primary easier and saves money on labor costs.

"We just got a ballot on demand system," she said, pointing to two huge printers on rolling carts in her office. The state paid for the new system that prints a voter's ballot as it is requested.

That's quite a change for Asbell's staff.

"It's better than having 60 ballot styles in the vault and you've got to go look it (the right one) up," she said. It will also end having to guess how many ballots need to be printed to have on hand for absentee and early voting and having to destroy unused ballots.

For those interested in early voting, Asbell said it begins on Aug. 11 and ends Aug. 23. Early voting will take place only at her office in Bronson.

Absentee ballot requests have already started flowing. Asbell said 2,500 have been mailed and 900 ballots have already been returned, she said.

"I'm expecting a lot more absentee ballots," she said. "It costs us a dollar to send it out and it only costs the person 42 cents versus the cost of a gallon or two of gas."

All ballots will be processed on optical scanners with one exception. Handicapped voters will be able to use the electronic voting machines. Asbell says there will be one electronic machine at each precinct for use only by handicapped voters.

Asbell said if a voter does not receive their sample ballot, they can call her office at 486-5163. If they have a question about voter registration, they can call the same phone number.

Asbell said that registration has closed for the primary, but her office is still registering for the general election in November.

She also said new Levy County residents who were registered to vote at their old address in Florida can vote in the primary, even if they missed the registration deadline. They can go to their polling place on election day, provide identification and request a ballot.

The poll workers will contact Asbell's office which can verify the voter's registration in Florida and move it to their new address.

If Asbell cannot verify the voter's registration elsewhere in Florida they will be given a provisional ballot.

Asbell said she also wanted to let voters know that if they miss voting in the primary they can still vote in November. "A lot of people think that if they don't vote in the primary they cannot vote in the general election. "

For more information on the elections and to obtain live results on primary night, Asbell said voters can go to www.votelevy.com.