Casting a vote is the most powerful form of peaceful demonstration provided to U.S. citizens. If you haven’t registered to vote in the Nov. 6 election, you still have time. Tuesday, Oct. 9 is the last day to register.
It is you, the voter, who will decide who serves as our next president, congressman, U.S. senator, state representative, state attorney and District 3 county commissioner.
It is you who will decide the fate of 11 state amendments that pertain to federal health care, tax breaks, women’s reproductive rights, how the state courts are seated and more.
If you live within the Sarasota city limits, you will also decide the fate of a charter amendment that would give our city manager additional administrative powers.
If this all sounds too confusing, pick up a copy of the League of Women Voters 2012 Florida Election and Voter Guide at your local library.
You can register to vote at the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Office, located at 101 S. Washington Blvd. in downtown Sarasota, or you can print out the voter registration application at home and mail it in or drop it off at the Supervisor of Elections Office.
Your application must arrive by Oct. 9, and it would be wise to get it in a day or two early if you are sending it by mail.
To register, you must be a Citizen of the United States, be a Florida resident, be 18 years old and you cannot be a convicted felon (unless you’ve had your voting rights restored).
When registering, you will be asked to provide your driver’s license number or Florida ID card number and the last four digits of your social security number.
And of course you must sign your registration application, as your original signature will be checked against the one on your ID when you go to vote.
You can also register to vote through third party registration organizations such as the Sarasota League of Women Voters, who will be out and about at public events until the registration period closes.
If you think going to the polls on Election Day is too much of a hassle, you can vote by mail by requesting an Absentee Ballot.
If you want to avoid those long Election Day lines, you can vote early. Early voting begins Saturday Oct. 27 and runs through Saturday Nov. 3. Early voting taking place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
You can make your early vote at the Supervisor of Elections offices in Sarasota, Venice or Northport. Here in Sarasota you can also cast an early vote at the Gulf Gate Library, the Fruitville Library and the North County Library.
If you wait until Election Day, you will have to locate your voting precinct and vote at that location. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Registered voters will receive a sample ballot ahead of time and that will include information on where to vote. Sample ballots will be mailed out in early October and will also be available online.
This year’s ballot is very lengthy, so you will want to take a look at your sample ballot before you head to the polls; and it’s never a bad idea to educate yourself on the issues and candidates that interest you. You do not have vote on every race or amendment listed on the ballot. You pick and choose the issues and candidates on which you want to vote.
When you vote in person, either on Election Day or during early voting, you must present a valid photo ID. This could be driver’s license, a state ID, a student ID or a Military ID.
Get all the information you need to know about voting at the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections website.
If you’re reading this story and live outside of Sarasota County, find your local Supervisor of Elections office online and find out what you need to do to vote.
This is an important election, so get out there and vote!