By ALICIA LEONARD
Walton County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Bobby Beasley addressed some rumors that have been circulating about voting on election day.
Beasley first touched on what voters can wear to the polls, “Candidates and voters can wear a shirt, cap or button promoting their candidate, when voting early or at the polls. However, we do have a 100-foot no-solicitation zone around all entrances of polling places. There is no electioneering or solicitation inside that zone. Once they vote, they have to go outside of that zone, if they want to promote their candidate. They are not allowed to point out what they are wearing or refer to it inside the no solicitation zone. Even with causal conversation, we have no idea if they are electioneering, so our bailiffs and poll workers have been instructed to ask them to move along, if they linger, no matter what they are wearing, and move outside of the 100-foot zone.
Some voters were under the impression that they could not wear clothes with political messages, but Beasley said, “they have every right to wear what ever they want to vote and will never be turned away if they wear something supporting their candidate.”
Beasley then went to clarify what types of identification voters need to have their say at the polls. “Everyone is required to show signature and photo identification. Most of that is done with drivers licenses or Florida photo identification cards. We also accept military identification, passports and student IDs.
In July 2008, the buyer club cards and the employees identification cards were disallowed as identification. If someone has lost their identification, we need them to go to their precinct, and vote a provisional ballot. Everyone without identification, per law, has to vote a provisional ballot and the canvassing board will then check their signature against the one on record. If a voter votes outside of their precinct, they will have to vote a provisional ballot and if the canvassing board decides they were out of their precinct, that ballot will most likely be rejected. It’s Florida law that one must vote in their precinct.”
Beasley said there is another issue cropping up, especially for elderly voters, “People are calling voters and telling them they can vote over the phone. That’s a scam. If anyone gets a call like that, they need to get the number that called them and call us. That’s voter fraud.”
Beasley said if one has a hard time remembering how they want to vote on the election, voters are allowed to take a sample ballot into the poll with them. “We want to remind voters to vote both sides of their ballot this year. The amendments up for vote are on the backside of the ballots, so, you need to vote both sides. You are allowed to bring in a sample ballot, as long as you keep it in your pocket or on your person. You can view it in the privacy of the voting both, but are not allowed to show it to others.”
Early voting is one way a person can avoid issues about precincts and avoid last-minute interruptions that may hinder one from voting on election day. “October 20 through November 1 is early voting. From 8:30 till 4:30, Monday through Saturday at our DeFuniak office, as well as our south Walton office, with your photo and signature identification, you can vote early.”
In 2004, Beasley said that the turnout for the general election was near 74 percent. “We are expecting an even larger turnout for this general election and we have beefed up our numbers, where our poll workers are concerned. We are also getting a lot of requests for absentee ballots, from those who will be unable to be here in person on election day.”
Beasley said with early voting getting more recognition and more people requesting absentee ballots, he would not be surprised that if over half of the people in Walton had cast their votes before election day.
Beasley encouraged voters to sign on the SOE’s website, www.votewaltoncounty.com and look over sample ballots that will also be mailed out to households, and suggested calling either of his offices with any question.
“We have six amendments this year and we encourage voters to look over these sample ballots and study the issues and then mark that ballot. Bring it with you when you come to vote and use it as a guide, or other info that helps you vote. You just can’t show it to another voter, that’s against the law.”
Although the deadline to register to vote has passed, if one has moved or changed residences, they can still do an address change with the SOE’s office. Also, in case of a name change or signature change, they can help. Beasley reminds voters that if voting by absentee ballot, to use their normal signature. If scribbled and not matching the one on the rolls, it could interfere with their ballot being accepted. “It’s very important that you use the same signature as the one you used on your registration,” Beasley adds.
“We’re really proud here in Walton County that we usually don’t have long lines to vote and our voters are well behaved. We are here to help and answer any questions. Just call us at 892-8112 or 622-0744,” Beasley said.