The Pinellas County Voter Guide: How to register, vote by mail, dates to know

Three individuals holding I Voted stickers outside their polling place
smith and associates

One of my heroes passed this year. John Lewis, the incredible civil rights activist and Congressman from Georgia was a fierce advocate of voting and the necessity of voting. In July of 2016, he said, “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.”

That may seem melodramatic, but that’s because we’ve had the right to vote. I’ve never lived in a world where I had to fight for my right to vote. John Lewis and all the Civil Rights Activists throughout history did that for us. Now we get to use that right.

I know that voting can be intimidating because it seems like there are so many bureaucratic hoops to jump through, but I promise, it’s so much easier than you think. Follow this simple voter guide and you’ll be ready to hit the polls in no time!

In order to vote in Pinellas County, there are a couple of things that you need to do.

Step 1: Register to Vote. (If you are registered to vote, skip to Step 2)

In order to vote in the State of Florida, you must be a US citizen and a legal resident of Florida in the county you wish to cast your vote.

You must be 18 years old to vote, but you can pre-register at 16 if you want! I remember going to the DMV and when they asked me which party I wanted to register as, I said, “Well, there are only two right?” They told me I should wait to register. Look how far I’ve come, writing voter guides for ILTB.

Returning citizens (people who have felony convictions) and individuals who have been deemed “mentally incompetent” must have their civil rights restored before they can cast their vote.

There are plenty of ways to register in Pinellas County. You can ALWAYS register to vote online at the Department of State website.

If you prefer to stay offline, don’t worry. There are plenty of other options. You can register to vote at the DMV or the Local Board of Elections. Make sure you call ahead of time to see if they have any appointments available. Because of COVID, many locations require an appointment. You can also register to vote at any Pinellas County Library! This is the link to their contact info and hours of operation.

In order to register, you will need to provide a current Florida Driver’s License or Florida ID card. If you don’t have either of these Florida issued documents, you will need to provide the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Keep in mind you must register at least 29 days before the election. For the November 3rd Election, you must register to vote by October 5th.

Step 2: Check Your Voter Registration

EVERYONE, and I cannot stress this enough, SHOULD CHECK THEIR REGISTRATION.

“I registered as soon as I turned 18. I know I’m registered” – Check it

“I’ve voted in every election since Kennedy” – Check it

“I voted in 2018. I’m good”—You don’t know that! CHECK IT.

The reason I’m screaming at you through this keyboard is not just because I’m a drama queen but also because Florida has put nearly 300,000 registered voters who voted in 2016 or later on “inactive lists,” which means they could be purged from the rolls and unable to vote in 2020. It’s crucial that you keep an eye on your voter registration status. If you notice something is off now, you still have time to get it fixed so that you can vote in 2020. My little sister was unable to vote in the 2018 Primary because she was registered as an Independent. She was registered for a party, but somehow that got switched. We updated it after the primary and then she was able to vote in the general election. Please, please, please, check your voter registration.

Step 3:
Request a Vote by Mail Ballot

Voting in the middle of a pandemic may seem scary to some and may be impossible to others. If you don’t want to go to the polls or if you can’t go to the polls because you or a family member is high risk, vote by mail is the safest way to go.

You can request a mail-in ballot by submitting a Mail Ballot Request Form, calling (727) 464-8683, emailing MailBallotRequests@VotePinellas.com, or writing to the Supervisor of Elections office.

REMOTE BALLOT DROP-OFF LOCATIONS
Between October 19, 2020 – November 2, 2020, you can drop off your ballot at any of these remote drop-off ballot locations. Note: These places will not be open during Election Day, November 3, 2020. Check the hours as well!

Or Early Voting

If you are registered already and wish to vote in person ahead of November 3, 2020 at a polling place instead of using a mail in ballot, early voting is from October 24, 2020 – October 31, 2020. You can vote early in person at these locations between 7am – 7pm, Monday through Sunday.

Want someone else to deliver your mail in ballot? Any person can collect and return other voters’ voted absentee ballots to the Supervisor of Elections.

Step 4: Get Educated!

Pinellas has quite a few races this year. We can’t tell you who to vote for, but we can tell you who is running. Make sure to learn a little bit about each of these candidates and then get to the polls on November 3 to make your voice heard.

Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ken Burke (REP) Unopposed
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri (REP) Qualified
Eliseo Santana (DEM) Qualified
Property Appraiser Mike Twitty (REP) Qualified
Trevor L. Mallory (DEM) Qualified
Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas (REP) Qualified
Joseph Saportas (DEM) Qualified
Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus (REP) Qualified
Dan Helm (DEM) Qualified
Board of County Commissioners, District 1 – At Large Larry Ahern (REP) Qualified
Janet C. Long (DEM) Qualified
Board of County Commissioners, District 3 – At Large Tammy Sue Vasquez (REP) Qualified
Charlie Justice (DEM) Qualified
Board of County Commissioners, District 5 – Single Member Karen Seel (REP) Unopposed
Board of County Commissioners, District 7 – Single Member Rene Flowers (DEM) Qualified
Maria L. Scruggs (NPA) Qualified
County Judge Group 3 Edwin B. Jagger (NP) Unopposed
County Judge Group 10 James V. Pierce (NP) Unopposed
County Judge Group 14 Robert G. Dittmer (NP) Unopposed
County Judge Group 15 John Carassas (NP) Unopposed
School Board Member, District 1 – At Large Laura Hine (NP) Runoff
Stephanie G. Meyer (NP) Runoff
School Board Member, District 4 – Single Member Eileen M. Long (NP) Elected
School Board Member, District 5 – Single Member Carol J. Cook (NP) Unopposed
School Board Member, District 7 – Single Member Caprice Johnson Edmond (NP) Runoff
Karl Nurse (NP) Runoff
East Lake Tarpon Special Fire Control District – Seat 1 Kevin Kenney (NP) Unopposed
East Lake Tarpon Special Fire Control District – Seat 3 John D. Cattel (NP) Qualified
MaryEllen Crowder (NP) Qualified
Tom May (NP) Qualified
East Lake Tarpon Special Fire Control District – Seat 5 James Dalrymple (NP) Qualified
Peter Nehr (NP) Qualified
Michael S. Peasley (NP) Qualified
Lealman Special Fire Control District – Seat 1 Ronald F. Kemerer (NP) Unopposed
Lealman Special Fire Control District – Seat 3 Jay D. Alexander (NP) Unopposed
Lealman Special Fire Control District – Seat 5 Vivian Diane Campbell (NP) Unopposed
Palm Harbor Special Fire Control and Rescue District – Seat 1 Casey Cane (NP) Unopposed
Palm Harbor Special Fire Control and Rescue District – Seat 3  Debbie Buschman (NP) Unopposed
Palm Harbor Special Fire Control and Rescue District – Seat 5 Kelli Snow (NP) Unopposed
Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District – Seat 1 Lawrence “Larry” Gordon Schear (NP) Unopposed
Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District – Seat 2 David B. Ardman (NP) Unopposed
Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District – Seat 5 Lou Snelling (NP) Unopposed
Clearwater Cay Community Development District – Seat 1 Steve Whitehurst (NP) Qualified
Jeffrey D. Wilson (NP) Qualified
Clearwater Cay Community Development District – Seat 2 Alan Glidden (NP) Qualified
Ronald J. Schulte (NP) Qualified
Eastlake Oaks Community Development District – Seat 4 Scott Roper (NP) Unopposed

Step 5: Make sure your vote counted!

Voters who have requested a vote-by-mail ballot can track the status of their mail in ballot through the Division of Elections’ Voter Information Lookup or their county Supervisor of Elections’ website.

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Written by Kacy Vance

Kacy Vance

Kacy is a freelance writer for I Love the Burg. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in Mass Communications and Criminology. Her thesis on Deaf and Disability representation in the media was published as part of the DePauw University Ethics Symposium in 2018.