With more than 161,000 vote-by-mail ballots having been sent to Sarasota County voters, Elections Office staff also preparing for early voting to begin on Oct. 19

Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner urging voters to return vote-by-mail ballots early, with drop boxes available at his offices in Sarasota, Venice and North Port, and drop boxes to be located inside early voting sites

This is the top of the Supervisor of Elections Office homepage late in the afternoon of Oct. 14. Image courtesy Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner

As the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office prepares for the Oct. 19 start of early voting for the Nov. 3 General Election, The Sarasota News Leader learned this week that the staff has sent out 161,079 vote-by-mail ballots.

Rachel Denton, communications and voter outreach manager for the office, reported in an Oct. 14 email that 66,552 of those ballots had been returned and accepted as of that morning.

Further, Denton noted the following statistics in her email, which the News Leader had requested:

  • 69,154 vote-by-mail ballots were mailed to Democrats.
  • 58,017 vote-by-mail ballots were mailed to Republicans.
  • 33,908 vote-by-mail ballots were mailed to those who have no affiliation to either of the major parties.

When the News Leader checked the Supervisor of Elections Office website the afternoon of Oct. 14, it found that 340,170 citizens in the county are registered to vote. However, Denton was not able to provide the exact number eligible for the Nov. 3 General Election.

Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner has been advising people for weeks to be sure they return those vote-by-mail ballots as fast as possible. People may track their ballots by clicking on the “Vote by Mail” icon on the Supervisor of Elections Office homepage. That will bring up a log-in page for the voter.

This is the form on the Supervisor of Elections Office website through which a citizen may track a vote-by-mail ballot. Image from the website

“Vote-by-mail ballots must be received in the elections office by 7 p.m. on election night to be counted,” Turner pointed out in an Oct. 14 news release.

If a citizen plans to return a ballot by mail, the release stresses that the U.S. Postal Service recommends mailing the ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 27, to allow sufficient time for the ballot to reach the elections office by Election Day.

Voters also may return vote-by-mail ballots in person to any of the three elections offices — in Sarasota, North Port or Venice — during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3).

Moreover, Turner has emphasized that voters who choose to vote by mail may place their completed and signed ballots in secure drop boxes that will be accessible inside all early voting sites.

In regard to the early voting process, Turner has explained that that will be conducted from Monday, Oct. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. “Sarasota County is offering more days and locations for early voting than ever before,” he added in a news release.

The Supervisor of Elections Office in North Port is located in Biscayne Plaza. Image from Google Maps

Voters may cast their ballots early at any one of the following eight locations throughout Sarasota County, the Supervisor of Elections Office staff has emphasized:

  • Elections office at the Terrace Building, located at 2001 Adams Lane in downtown Sarasota (34237).
  • Elections office at the R.L. Anderson Administration Center, located at 4000 Tamiami Trail S. in Venice (34293).
  • Elections office at Biscayne Plaza, located at 13640 Tamiami Trail in North Port (34287).
  • North Sarasota Library, located at 2801 Newtown Blvd. in Sarasota (34234).
  • Fruitville Library, located at 100 Apex Road in Sarasota (34240).
  • Shannon Staub Library, located at 4675 Career Lane in North Port (34289).
  • Sarasota Square Mall, located at 8201 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota (34238).
  • Bee Ridge Park, located at 4430 S. Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota (34231).

Turner encourages citizens who plan to vote in person during this election to consider voting early.

“With expected high turnout for the November 3 election,” he said in a news release, “I strongly urge voters to take advantage of the 14 days of early voting, which will go a long way toward helping reduce lines and wait times at polling places on Election Day.”

Early voting is comparable to voting in person on Election Day, the news release pointed out. The same equipment and voting process are used during early voting and at Election Day polling places, the release explained. “However, voters can choose any early voting site in the county, as opposed to voting at an assigned location,” the release noted.

Voters who choose to vote early must present photo and signature identification upon check-in at the early voting site and prior to voting, the release said. A voter who does not present the required ID will be offered a provisional ballot, the release added.

For more information, visit SarasotaVotes.com or call 941-861-8619.