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Vote By Mail Guest Column
Vote By Mail – what a bargain! For all the deals offered these days even the best bargain hunters are hard pressed to find anything that costs less than 50 cents. Not a soda from the machine. Not a thing on the dollar menu.
And yet, as Americans we can pay less than 50 cents to do something many are willing to pay the ultimate price for.
Before you think it’s too early to talk elections, remember that the Republican Presidential Primary is almost here—Jan. 31, 2012.
Florida is a “no-excuse” state when it comes to voting. While you once needed to cite a reason to vote by mail, now all it takes is a simple request for a Vote-By-Mail ballot. This very month we’re mailing out Voter Information Cards and a Vote-By-Mail request card will be attached.
Many have thought mailed-in votes only mattered in deciding narrow elections. Not so. A mailed-in vote counts the same as one cast at your precinct—as long as it arrives at our office by 7 p.m. Election Day. To provide further peace of mind, you can track your ballot by visiting our website, www.MartinVotes.com, to find out when your voted ballot arrived at our office.
More Martin County citizens are choosing this option. In the 2008 presidential election, 33 percent of all votes cast arrived by mail. That year the overall turnout was 78 percent of Martin County’s more than 100,000 registered voters.
Martin County is blessed with a citizenry that is civilly informed and civically engaged so voter turnout consistently runs high. In addition, the “convenience” appeal of voting by mail is self-evident. Still, much of the credit for the increasing participation goes to my amazingly dedicated staff. They work tirelessly to spread the word and make sure Martin County voters know the options before them. They certainly earned the Golden Image Award that the Florida Public Relations Association awarded our informational campaign, “Where Will You Be in 2010? Vote By Mail.”
To vote by mail, you simply need to make sure your signature is up to date and our records reflect any recent name change. It must be your actual signature on the ballot certificate —a power of attorney will not suffice. When requesting your ballot, make sure you provide the address where you will be residing, as ballots cannot be forwarded.
You can request a ballot to be mailed from our website or by calling the elections office at 772.288.5637. You should receive your ballot as early as 30 days before each election. For those serving in the military or living overseas, Vote-By-Mail ballots will be mailed 45 days before the election.
Mentioning our military, and having recently observed Veteran’s Day, raises an important point. During the last decade the world has watched in amazement as people have suffered under oppressive regimes and yet experienced the excitement and empowerment of exercising their right to vote in free elections.
In these lands the cost of such votes often entails strife, struggle, conflict, risk—and in many cases the sacrifices of members of our military. Meanwhile, here at home, the cost of exercising our right to vote runs little more than the price of a postage stamp.
By any measure, that’s a small price to pay for such a sought-after liberty.