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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Everything you should know about voting early

Voters can head to the polls as early as Saturday in Alachua County.

Anyone registered before July 30 will get to choose between Democrat and Republican candidates for governor, U.S. congressmen, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. Other local races include three School Board seats, a county commission, and two judges -- county and circuit.

Early voting in Alachua County is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Saturday from August 25. Before polls even opened, 7,032 people voted by mail, according to state data.

If you didn’t register before July 30, you won’t be able to participate in the Aug. 28 primary but you can vote in the general election Nov. 6 if you register before Oct. 9.

If you do plan to vote early in the next week, here’s what you need to know:

Where to vote

During early voting, registered voters can go to any of five open locations no matter their precinct.

If you wait until Aug. 28, you have to vote in your own precinct. You can look that up on the Supervisor of Elections website.

A federal judge struck down a ban against using Florida college campuses for early voting last month after UF students sued the Florida Secretary of State.

While the court decision won’t impact early voting for the primaries, Alachua Supervisor of Election Kim Barton announced Friday that the Reitz Union will be an early voting location come October 22.

Below is an map of the five early voting locations for the primary election.

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 What to bring

All Florida polling locations require a valid photo ID with a signature. If you are looking to get in and out of the polling place as quickly as possible, you can fill out a sample ballot ahead of time. Sample ballots are mailed and also available online.

Who is on the ballots

Who you can vote for if you are a registered Republican:

For U.S Senate, Florida Governor Rick Scott and 2016 presidential candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente are running. California resident De La Fuente is also running in six other Senate races in other states, which is allowed as long as he moves to any state he is elected in. Whoever wins the primary will face incumbent Bill Nelson who is unopposed by any Democrat.

For the U.S. Rep. for District 3, Judson Sapp is challenging incumbent Ted Yoho.

Front runners in the race for governor are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. Other candidates are: Don Baldauf, Bob Langford, John Joseph Mercadante, Bruce Nathan and Bob White.

To replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi, circuit court Judge Ashley Moody and State Rep. Frank White are running.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is also term limited and running for another office. Vying for his office are State Rep. Matt Caldwell, State Senator Denise Grimsley, former governor candidate Mike McCalister and former state rep. Baxter Troutman.

Locally, Marc Vann and Chuck Brannan are running for the State Rep. seat for District 10, which includes a small piece of northwestern Alachua near High Springs as well as all of Baker, Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee counties. Whoever wins will take the face Ronald W. Williams II, who faces no challenger in the primary.

Who you can vote for if you are a registered Democrat:

Three Democrats are hoping to replace Republican incumbent Ted Yoho as U.S. Rep. for District 3: Dushyant Jethagir Gosai, Yvonne Hayes Hinson and Tom Wells.

Polls show former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is in the lead among Democrats running for the governor’s office. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene, Chris King, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, Alex “Lundy” Lundmark and John Wetherbee are also running.

State Rep. Sean Shaw and Ryan Torrens are running for Attorney General.

Democrats running for Commissioner of Agriculture are Nicole “Nikki” Fried, Jeffrey Duane Porter and Roy David Walker.

A UF professor of anesthesiology, Kayser Enneking, and former Alachua school teacher Olysha Magruder are running for State Senate District 8, which includes all of Alachua and Putnam counties and part of Marion County. Whoever wins will face Republican incumbent Keith Perry, who had no challenger in the primary.

Jason Lee Haeseler and Amol Jethwani, a UF political science senior, are both running for the State Rep. seat for District 21. The district encompasses western Alachua, including part of Gainesville, and all of Gilchrist and Dixie counties. Whoever wins will face incumbent Chuck Clemmons, who was unopposed by any Republicans.

Who you can vote for no matter your party affiliation:

For the Eighth Circuit, three candidates are on the ballot, no matter which party you are in: David Robertson, Julie Waldman and Gloria Walker.

County Court judge candidates are Craig DeThomasis, Meshon Rawls, Jon Uman and Darla K. Whistler.

Three School Board seats are open this election.

District 1: Tina Certain and April Griffin

District 3: Judy DeJesus McNeil, Gunnar Paulson and April Barefoot Tisher

District 5: Rob Hyatt and Paul Wolfe

Pros and cons of voting early

Who likes standing in lines? Most early voters choose to get it out of the way to avoid a wait that may come Election Day. If you have plans for Aug. 28, early voting also gives a week to get your civic duty over with. Voters can also choose their polling place if they vote early, rather than only being able to vote at their precinct.

However, with only five early voting locations in Alachua, that might not be convenient for some voters who live far from those polling places. If new information surfaces about a campaign, voters who already cast their ballots can’t change who they voted for.

Contact Meryl Kornfield at mkornfield@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @MerylKornfield

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