By Dale Martin
As the calendar turns from July to August, the 2022 election season unleashes itself. Many of you receive several pieces of campaign literature daily, touting a candidate’s strength or disparaging an opponent’s past. Although most of the following information can be found (in greater detail) at the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections website (https://www.votenassaufl.gov/) or the Department of State’s website (https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/), let me offer a summary of election information for City residents.
Tuesday, August 23, 2022 is the official Primary Election Day. Polls in the city (and elsewhere in Nassau County) will be open from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. City voters are assigned to one of three precincts and polling locations. Precinct 12 covers most of the city north of Sadler Road and east of 14th Street. Voters in that precinct vote at the Atlantic Recreation Center (2500 Atlantic Avenue). City residents north of Sadler Road but west of 14th Street are in Precinct 11 and vote at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center (1200 Elm Street). City residents south of Sadler Road are in Precinct 13 and vote at the Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church (820 S. 14th Street; a polling location interestingly not within the boundaries of the respective precinct). If a resident desires specific clarification as to the correct polling location, the Supervisor of Elections website, using your address, direct the voter to the appropriate site.
In addition to traditional polling place voting, other options to vote are available. Mail-in ballots, distributed forty days prior to the respective Election Day, have been mailed to voters who requested such ballots, but mail-in ballots can be requested up to ten days prior to the Election Day. These ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections no later than 7:00 PM on Election Day. Secure drop boxes are available at early voting sites during early voting operations (please see below for more information about early voting). Mail-in ballots cannot be submitted at polling sites on Election Day. If mailed, the United States Postal Service recommends mailing a ballot no later than seven days before Election Day.
Early voting is another method by which to cast a vote. Early voting is available to any Nassau County registered voter from 9:00 AM through 6:00 PM, August 10-20, including Saturdays and Sundays. Unlike on Election Day when, if voting in person, you must vote at your designated polling location, you may cast an early vote at any designated early voting sites. The Supervisor of Elections has several sites throughout the county, but the two locations perhaps most convenient to city residents are the Atlantic Recreation Center (2500 Atlantic Avenue) and the James S. Page Governmental Center (96135 Nassau Place; located not far off of Amelia Island near State Road 200/A1A). To cast an early vote, you must provide appropriate identification. Without such identification, your ballot will be considered a provisional ballot and reviewed for eligibility.
Please note that no city candidates are on the primary election ballot. The primary election includes candidates for many other local, county, State, and federal offices, but the initial election for the city’s mayor and city commissioners does not occur until November’s Election Day (November 8). If City candidates for their respective offices do not acquire a majority of votes, a run-off election between the two highest vote-getters will be conducted in December.
As campaigns intensify their efforts, please be mindful of city regulations regarding political signs. Political signs are not permitted to be placed on public property and, if placed on private property, require the property owners consent. Signs illegally placed within the city may be removed without notice. This restriction on placement applies on election days, as well: signs placed in the vicinity of polling locations must not be placed on public property (which includes rights-of-way).
Voting is a duty, and sadly, the concept of voting and election integrity has become the subject of great scrutiny and skepticism. When I moved to Florida several years ago, Nassau County elections were under the supervision and direction of Ms. Vicki Cannon. Now, Ms. Janet Adkins has assumed that responsibility. Despite the change of leadership, Nassau County elections continue to garner high marks for professionalism and integrity. I do hope that you cast your ballot confidently in August and later in November (and in the city, perhaps December). Your votes are critical to the success of our local communities, our state, and our nation. Do not sit idle.
Thank you to all candidates willing to serve and to all voters participating in this year’s elections.