As the Florida Primary–set to take place on March 17–approaches, students question how and where their vote will be counted. Some students may not have their permanent addresses listed in Sarasota-Manatee County, preventing them from being able to cast their vote in Sarasota-Manatee voting locations. The current solution for this problem is the Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballot system.
VBM has been a staple in Florida for those unable to reach their voting locations. Traditionally, the VBM system required the voter to send their ballot through U.S. postage. With this process, it was necessary for voters to purchase envelopes and stamps and trust on the reliability of U.S. postage to deliver their ballot in time. In response to concerns over the reliability of the VBM process, Sarasota-Manatee County has created VBM drop boxes.
Voters will be able to drop their ballot at designated locations in Sarasota, North Port and Venice. The ballots will be compiled at these drop box locations and directed to their respected counties for proper representation.
The drop boxes are a welcome addition to the voting process to ensure as many voters as possible are represented. Starting March 7, the new drop boxes will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Voters will be able to take advantage of the drop boxes until 7 p.m. on the night of the primary, March 17. To print and fill out the VBM forms, voters can visit SarasotaVotes.com.
In an interview with Patch, Jennifer Fett from the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office informed the public of this program’s history.
“The boxes themselves are actually new,” Fett said. “For all previous elections, they could always drop it off at our offices.”
Voters will be able to track their ballot through SarasotaVotes.com to ensure it reaches the proper location.
These additions to the voting process are planned to be as efficient as possible, but as the drop boxes are part of a new system, mistakes may be made. The Elections Office strongly encourages voters planning to use VBM to contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at 941-861-8600 or visit SarasotaVotes.com with any questions regarding the new process.