Early-voting schedule and drop-off booth for absentee ballots announced

Gulf Gate Library on Curtiss Avenue is one of the early-voting locations for Sarasota County citizens. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office is offering early voting for the Aug. 14, primary election beginning Saturday, Aug. 4, and continuing through Saturday, Aug. 11, the office has announced.

The shortened schedule is a result of action by the Florida Legislature. Previously, voters had 14 days for early voting.

The office also is offering a secure means of dropping off absentee ballots without having to mail them.

During the 2012, eight-day early voting period, eligible voters may cast their ballots at any one of the five locations listed below, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., an SOE Office news release says:

• Supervisor of Elections Office, Sarasota County Terrace Building, 2001 Adams Lane, Sarasota; phone: 861-8600.

• Supervisor of Elections Office, R.L. Anderson Administration Building, Room 114, 4000 Tamiami Trail South, Venice; 861-3760.

• Supervisor of Elections Office, 13640 Tamiami Trail, North Port: 423-9540.

• Gulf Gate Library, 7112 Curtiss Ave., Sarasota.

• North Sarasota Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota.

Florida law requires voters to present photo and signature ID upon entering the polling place, prior to voting, the Supervisor of Elections Office news release points out. A voter who appears at the polls without photo and signature ID will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.

To cast ballots by mail, voters should call 861-8618 to request an absentee ballot. The office must receive those requests for absentee ballots no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 1, the news release says.

The Supervisor of Elections Office announced July 25 that Sarasota County voters choosing to vote with absentee ballots will be will be able to drop off those ballots at an express booth between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Sarasota County Terrace Building during the eight days of early voting, .

The drop-off service is a handy way for voters to return their mail ballots without having to pay the cost of postage, park their cars or worry about the speed of mail delivery, according to the July 25 news release.

Voters should look for the blue Supervisor of Elections canopy on the south side of Morrill Street, east of Washington Boulevard, just one block south of the Terrace Building. SOE representatives will be on hand to collect and drop the signed ballot envelopes into the secured ballot box, the news release says.

Voters are being cautioned to ensure they have signed their absentee ballot certificate envelopes prior to dropping them off.

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent also urges absentee voters whose signatures may have changed since the last election to update their signatures with the SOE office.  Signature updates must be made on a Florida Voter Registration Application and must be received by the supervisor of elections before the start of the absentee ballot canvass, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

All voted absentee ballots must be in the hands of the supervisor of elections by 7 p.m. on election night to be counted.

More than 24,000 absentee ballots have been mailed so far to county residents, according to the news release.

Voters who have questions may contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at 861-8600 or visit the SOE website at www.SarasotaVotes.com.