A voter’s guide for 2002

As the gubernatorial election campaign comes to a close Tuesday, thousands of Floridians will head to the polls to cast their vote for the next governor and other positions at state and local levels.

This year’s election is expected to have a larger turnout than seen in past years, said Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County, Pam Iorio.

Four years ago, Hillsborough County had a 50.72 percent turnout during the gubernatorial general election between Jeb Bush and Buddy McKay. However, Iorio said voters should be prepared before casting their votes Tuesday.

“Know how to vote and where you are going to vote,” Iorio said.

Hillsborough County voters received sample ballots and packets in the mail last week. In the packets were directions and a map to their precincts, Iorio said.

Susan MacManus, a USF political science professor, said student voters especially need to do their homework before going to the polls so they can save time and get out faster.

“Get a hold of a sample ballot, and mark it up before heading to the polls,” MacManus said.

MacManus said FloridaTrend.com, an online magazine, is a good source of information on the 11 amendments that are being proposed before Tuesday.

“Their October issue is wonderful. It is a simple spreadsheet that is easy to understand,” she said.

Also, Sunday’s The Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times had endorsements and opinion pieces for the candidates and the amendments, MacManus said.

“All these things will help (students) become more informed,” she said.

MacManus said the results of a recent straw poll, which was conducted two weeks ago at six of Florida’s universities, show that more students are paying attention and have gained an interest in the gubernatorial election. However, only 1,000 students from the six universities combined participated in the poll.

“We are going to have a higher turnout than in the past,” she said.

MacManus said the increase of interest is because the candidates know that younger voters count just as much as everyone else.

“I think the candidates did a better job working the college campuses this year,” she said.

Besides doing their homework and being interested in the election, voters need to keep in mind that the lines are going to be longer and to plan their day around when they are going to vote.

“If at all possible, voters need to avoid peak hours because lines will be the longest then,” Iorio said.

Peak hours are considered to be between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m and between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Iorio added that all voters really need to worry about bringing to the polls is a picture ID.

“A driver’s license will do,” she said. “You really don’t need your voter ID card because your name is already in the register book.”

Another choice voters have this time around is to vote early. In Hillsborough, the touch screens are available for early voting in two locations: downtown, at the County Center on Kennedy Boulevard, and at the Elections Service Center, located at the corner of Falkenburg Road and Columbus Road near Brandon.

“Anyone can go to those two locations and show their ID and vote early,” Iorio said. “It is considered to be like voting absentee.”

Iorio said that as of late Wednesday, the county had 2,115 voters vote in the morning with an additional 600 voters in the mid-afternoon, thus closing in on 3,000 voters.

Both Bill McBride and Jeb Bush have encouraged Floridians both young and old to go out and vote before and during the election, making their campaign focus in the past week “getting out the vote.”

Iorio said avoiding delays would be a wise decision and the hours available for voting today are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday the polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

“Even if you are closer to one of those locations, voters can stop there and vote and not go to their precinct,” she said.

Contact Stefanie Greenat oraclestefanie@yahoo.com