For voters in the State of Florida, 2018 has quickly shaped up to be the “Year of Choices”.
It’s been at least 20 years, since we as voters, have been presented with this many options and decisions.
The first choice you will be asked to make is; How will you vote? Vote by Mail, Early Voting or Election Day. For this Election cycle, I highly recommend, Vote by Mail. Why? I’ll explain after I’ve told you a little about your ballot.
Let’s start with the August 28th Primary. Remember Florida is a Closed Primary State. Which means, if you wish to vote in the Republican or Democratic portions of the Primary, you must be registered with your Party choice by July 30th. But even if you’re not registered with either Party, you have quite a few decisions to make.
Although registered Republicans and Democrats will have choices prior to the nonpartisan section of their ballots, the next few items, will appear on ALL ballots.
The first nonpartisan item is our choice for a Judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit. We (Marion County) along with 4 other counties, will make this choice. Marion County has the largest number of registered voters in the Circuit, at a little over 30% of the total number.
The next items on our ballot, will be our choices for County Judge. Marion County has four local County Court Judges. And for the first time ever, we will be deciding three of these local judicial races. That is 75% of our entire local judiciary.
This will be directly followed by three School Board races; 60% of our entire School Board is up for Election.
And finally, we will be presented with the option of continuing the Marion County School District’s one mill ad valorem tax, which was passed in 2012.
Although, from a Primary Election perspective, the number of decisions we’re being asked to make is extremely large, however, it pales in comparison to what we will be presented with in November!
A quick disclaimer, due to district differences and possible outcomes in the Primary, the following is subject to change.
Your November Ballot will include: United States Senate, United States Congress, Governor and Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, Commissioner of Agriculture, State Senate, State House, two County Commission Districts, several Judicial Retention Offices, three School Board Districts, thirteen Proposed Constitutional Amendments and a School Board referendum.
If you read the last paragraph quickly, you have may have missed that there will be THIRTEEN Proposed Constitutional Amendments. The first five amendments were placed on the ballot in the traditional manner, either by the Florida Legislature or by a citizen led group. The remaining eight were placed on the ballot by the Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC). In my opinion, one of the most important differences, is if the voters or legislature place a proposed amendment on the ballot, the amendment must be single subject, but there is no such requirement for the CRC.
And I believe the CRC took full advantage of this. Although a couple of their amendments are single subject, most contain more than one subject. My favorite example is Proposed Amendment #9, which in short prohibits offshore drilling and indoor vaping.
Our November ballot will be seventeen inches long, three columns front and back. If you were to place the columns end to end, that would be almost eight and one-half feet of ballot content. We fully expect it to take voters approximately thirty minutes to read the entire ballot. In the majority of our voting locations, we can only accommodate a limited number of voting booths. As soon as those booths are occupied, voters will have to wait for an available booth.
Do yourself a favor this Fall, and Vote by Mail. You can request your ballot at www.VoteMarion.com or call us at 352-620-3290.
Wesley Wilcox, CERA
Supervisor of Elections
Marion County, Florida