Thanks for joining us for another episode of Patrons & Partnerships, presented by the Library Partnership Branch of the Alachua County Library District.
Our guest today is Aaron Klein, the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Supervisor of Elections for Alachua County. We talk about the upcoming primary and general elections, how to register to vote, changes to the ballot dropboxes, and how to get involved with the elections in Alachua County.
Important Primary Election Dates
Secure Ballot Intake Stations available at early voting locations from August 8th to August 23rd.
Important General Election Dates
Early voting and Secure Ballot Intake Station availability has yet to be determined. Check votealachua.gov closer to the election for more information.
Vote Alachua: https://www.votealachua.gov/
Register to vote online: https://www.votealachua.gov/Voters/Register-to-Vote-or-Update-Registration
Upcoming elections: https://www.votealachua.gov/Elections/Upcoming-Elections
Supervisor of Elections Office Address: 515 North Main Street, Suite 300, Gainesville, FL 32601
Phone Number: 352-374-5252
Visit the Alachua County Library District website to browse our collection and to find other resources and services offered at your favorite, local library!
You can view a transcript of this podcast on ACLD's YouTube Channel.
Hello, welcome to Patrons & Partnerships, the podcast presented by the Library Partnership branch of the Alachua County Library District. Today our guest is Aaron Klein, the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Supervisor of Elections for Alachua County. Welcome.Aaron:
Thank you very much. Thank you for having me and having our office on the show.Tina:
Okay, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your backgrounds? How you got to be the Director of Communications and Outreach?Aaron:
Sure, absolutely. My name is Aaron Klein, I'm very happy to be Director of Communications and Outreach for the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office. I have a background in public administration and government. I was fortunate enough to attend the University of Florida where I achieved my Bachelor's and Master's degree with a focus in Political Science for both. I worked in government previously, you know, primarily in a communications capacity. And recently, I got an opportunity to return to Gainesville after being away for some time, returned to Alachua County, and work for the Supervisor of Elections Office. And it's just a fabulous role. We're led by a really experienced supervisor, Kim A. Barton. And we have just a fantastic office that really is dedicated to public service.Tina:
So it's kind of an exciting time probably for you. There have been a lot of changes. Can you talk a little bit about the upcoming primary and general elections?Aaron:
Absolutely, absolutely. So 2022 is a general election year. Of course, first, before we get to the November elections that voters are so familiar with, we have the primary elections. On August 23rd, 2022, we will be having both county-wide and there will be voting happening across the state, the primary elections. So that's when voters are going to be first choosing nominees to appear on the general election ballot and also voting in some nonpartisan races as well, depending on if they live in certain municipalities, and of course, for some county races. And one thing we reiterate is, you know, it's really important to try to participate in every election you can, you know. If you want a fully informed opportunity in November to vote in that general election ballot, you should absolutely participate in the August primary. Some things to note about August, of course, is the deadlines. I always want to bring that up. The first key deadline to keep in mind for the August 23rd primary is July 25th. That is the deadline to register to vote to be able to participate in the August primary. If you are not registered at all come July 25th and that day passes, you will not be able to participate in August. So please, if you're, you know, you've recently turned 18 or you're just moved to Florida and you want to participate, go ahead and register to vote as soon as possible. There are a ton of ways to do it, and I'd be happy to walk you through that. And then the last thing I'll say about the primaries, since that's the most immediate thing to look forward to, is Florida is a closed primary state. That means that you will only be able to vote for partisan races come August for those races where the candidate has a party that matches your party affiliation. And what that means is say come, you know, August, you are no party affiliation. That means on your ballot in August, you will not be able to vote for the nominees for the governor's race, for Senate, the United States Senate race, for the state legislative races. You will need to declare a party by July 25th to then be able to participate in that party's primary in August.Tina:
So can you talk a little bit about registering as an independent, then? Aaron: Mhmm. If there is an independent candidate on the ballot, if you are registered as an independent, are you able to vote for that candidate?Aaron:
So the way it works is say, if you're registered as no party affiliation for those partisan races, you would not be able to vote, say, in the governor's race to choose the Republican nominee or the Democratic nominee. Now there is a possibility if you registered to vote on the form as a minor party and you specified what minor party that would be, then perhaps if there is a race involving a minor party on the ballot, you could participate in that one. But if you are no party affiliation officially, if you've made the designation, I am not choosing to be a member of the party, then your ballot is going to look very different from someone who has that expressed partisan affiliation. There are of course some nonpartisan races you'll be able to participate in. I can tell you in August, the ballot is going to be quite filled with important races, some of which are nonpartisan. For example, for our Gainesville residents, much of the City Commission is going to be on the ballot. A lot of the school board as well is going to be on the ballot come August. So of course, you can make the choice to be no party affiliation and participate in those races, some of those nonpartisan races, but your options will be limited because you won't be able to choose nominees for some of those governor and Senate races and those sorts of things.Tina:
So that was registering for the primary election. If you're not registered in time to participate in that, what is the deadline for registering for the primary? Aaron: Ah, very good question.Aaron:
That's why I bring my handy voter guide to make sure I have - Tina: I mean for the general, I'm sorry. Absolutely. Here it is. Yes, the deadline is October 11th, 2022. I want to make sure I have those dates completely correct. So to be clear, say you are not registered to vote come July 26th, the day after the deadline for the primary election, you can still register to vote after that and have plenty of time to participate in the general election. If you register to vote in September, you will certainly, as long as your registration information is correct, be able to participate for the November election. And that last deadline to participate in the general election is October 11th, 2022.Tina:
Can you talk about the different ways people can register to vote, different places, different locations that they can register?Aaron:
Sure. So there are a lot of different options to register to vote in the state of Florida. First of all, you can do so at your own convenience online at registertovoteflorida.gov. You can access that website directly. You can also go on our website, votealachua.gov - .com will also take you to our website - and find a link to that website. It’s the state of Florida's voter registration platform. You can do so by filling out the paper voter registration application. And you can do that by coming to our office, 515 North Main Street, Suite 300. We're in Gainesville. Or you can also download the form online on our website,or you can access the form at a number of places around the county:
At any Alachua County Library, at a DMV, at many agencies that serve the public. Just ask for the voter registration application. Not only will they provide that to you, but they can also mail it to us as well in a timely manner. So there are a number of options. And of course, if you prefer to take care of it yourself, you could always download the paper application, print it out, and either mail it to us - again 515 North Main Street - or take it to us directly, and we'll make sure you've covered all the required boxes with you and go ahead and process it for you.Tina:
Okay, and so if someone mails the registration form in, as long as it's postmarked by the deadline, does it count?Aaron:
Received. It needs to be received - Tina: It needs to be received. - by that deadline. So for the primary, it’s gonna be July 25th, 2022. You need to make sure we have it at the end of business hours that day. Now, of course, it kind of avoids any possible issues with the mail if you take care of it either in person, or do so at registertovoteflorida.gov at your own convenience.Tina:
How long does it take usually to process if you apply online?Aaron:
Oh, that, that process? I couldn't speak to any specifics there. It depends, you know, the way it works is we're going to take the form and submit it to the Department of State and Division of Elections, who's then going to verify your eligibility. So it really depends on what's going on on their end, but we can guarantee you we will process it and send it along to them before the deadline.Tina:
So we've talked about ways to participate and registering. Can you talk a little bit about the changes to the election law for this upcoming election season?Aaron:
Absolutely. So the August 2022 primary is the first county-wide election taking place since the passage of Senate Bill 90 back in 2021 and the recent passage of Senate Bill 524 by the Florida State legislature and signed into law by the governor of Florida. So there are some changes that voters should be aware of from both of those pieces of legislation. First of all, it's important to cover changes to the vote-by-mail process under those pieces of legislation. First and foremost, one thing we want voters to be aware of is vote-by-mail is absolutely still an option for you, and some of those same options that you were used to in the 2020 election still exist. The use of drop boxes, which according to statute are now called Secure Ballot Intake Stations. Those will still be available at early voting locations during early voting times. But it's important to keep in mind some things that were passed in Senate Bill 90 especially. So first of all, if you are a registered Alachua County voter and you would like to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the upcoming election, you will need to provide identification information within your vote-by-mail request form. Now, that means either a valid state of Florida ID or a valid Florida driver's license or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can take care of that process in a number of ways. If you're a registered voter, you can call our office and you can come by and take one of the forms that we have, the vote-by-mail request forms, and complete it. You can download that form on our website and mail it to us, or you can also do that online. On votealachua.gov, you'll see a tab that says Vote by Mail. And it will require the same information that is required to do the form in print. But it's important you recognize that is a change. You will need to provide that additional identification information. We would also like to make voters aware - so speaking about vote by mail - that there was a change in the length of time your request for a vote-by-mail ballot will be valid. So previously, if you made a vote-by-mail request, you could request that vote-by-mail ballots be sent to your address for two general election periods. Senate Bill 90 changed that to one general election. So for example, if you requested a vote-by-mail ballot in May of 2022, the maximum amount of time you could request a vote-by-mail ballot be sent to your residence under that request would be through the end of 2022. So we recommend that voters make a new request for vote-by-mail ballots every odd numbered year. If you make it in 2023, it will last all the way through the end of 2024 as long as you designate that on the form. That is another change. And those are two really critical ones for voters specifically to be aware of. Beyond that, there are some important changes for anyone who wants to act as a third party voter registration organization. There are changes to the guidelines you must follow if you want to register or help register voters at community events or with an organization. There are changes to guidelines regarding how long you have to deliver those applications to us or to the Division of Elections. And there are changes to the amount of penalties that could take place if you fail to fulfill your obligations to deliver those applications. So it is very much worth taking a look at the legislation, taking a look at materials that are to come from our office about them, and giving us a call, absolutely, if you have any questions.Tina:
Okay. And there was also a change with the secure boxes, though, as well. They are only accessible during certain hours, correct? Aaron: Correct. So, it is a complicated issue becauseAaron:
it has been in litigation recently. But in effect, SB-90, and then SB-524, those were the two pieces of legislation, put in statute that the secure ballot intake stations have to be monitored at all times. And so to ensure that we are able to monitor the secure ballot intake stations at all times, we are restricting their availability to either be at the Supervisor of Elections Office just around the early voting period. So I'll give you the full dates in just a second. And then at early voting locations, the seven that we have around the county, during early voting. I can give you the full dates right now. So for the primary election, the secure ballot intake station will start by being available at the Supervisor of Elections office from August 8th through August 12th, 9am to 6pm. And then it will be available at all seven early voting locations from 9am to 6pm, from August 13th to August 20th. And then again, it will be available at the Supervisor of Elections Office on August 21st - that's a Sunday; August 22nd - that's the Monday before election day; both of those days, 9am to 6pm. And then on August 23rd, it will only be available at the Supervisor of Elections office - that's election day. So from 7am to 7pm.Tina:
Okay. So I do want to talk to you about the website as well. I was looking at it this morning. And there seems to be a lot of intention and thought that went into making it as simple and as easily navigable as possible. Can you talk a little bit about that?Aaron:
Sure. Absolutely. So our office is very proud of our website. We wanted to ensure that it has a balance of having all the information that Alachua County residents and voters need to participate in elections, while also ensuring that we have front of mind the information they'll need, say, for the next couple of weeks as they get ready for whatever's going on in elections in Alachua County. So for example, on our homepage, if you just go to votealachua.gov, you'll see some helpful buttons in red and blue. When you click them, those are going to take you to the most pressing things that our office wants you to know about. Recently, that has been redistricting and any new maps that we were able to finalize on our website to make available to the public. There may be election dates and other important information like that. So we wanted our homepage to ensure that voters have access to the most pressing things they need to know about, while at the same time it's a well organized website with all the resources that voters need, especially when we aren't available outside of those business hours. So if you want to sign up to vote by mail, as we said, if you want to actually check your registration status to find out what precinct you're assigned to, what residence we have on file, and what party affiliation you are under. And closer to the election, you'll actually be able to track if your vote has been sent in the mail, has been received by our office and of course been tabulated by our office. You'll be able to see that as well. Any key updates you should know about, you'll see a press releases and an archive for previous things we've put out to our media partners and to the public. And then, of course, any kind of resources you'll need, such as the addresses for early voting locations, the list of precincts, and of course, the election dates for early voting and some key deadlines as well. So we're very happy with our website. We know that residents and voters want options when they're trying to learn about elections and participate. And we're happy that's one of those options to give them information.Tina:
Well, the way you talk about it, it sounds like there's a lot of information. But my experience here working at the library is there are a lot of people that don't have a lot of technology skills and they might be intimidated by hearing all of the information that you just talked about that's on the website. But that's why it's so impressive to me to look at it. And there's a lot of information, but it's very well laid out so that it simplifies the process for people, especially those who may be intimidated by the thought of going onto a website and applying for anything. So, yeah, I was very impressed.Aaron:
Yeah, I appreciate that. And I can tell you that it's not just one person updating the website. I think the reason why we would agree that it's very well laid out is because it's a collaborative effort across the office. When, for example, one of our election clerks continuously receives calls about maybe a point of confusion from a voter, they're going to let me or someone who's working on the website know saying, hey, maybe it would be a good idea to move this to this tab or to update this page just to clarify this issue. And we're very, you know, welcoming, of course, of input both from the public and from our own staff to ensure that we're getting a good idea of what the public needs as it relates to our website.Tina:
Well, I think it's empowering, too, I mean, on multiple levels. Knowing that, you know, a person can go on and navigate, but that they're also doing something to give voice. They're registering to vote, they're learning information, you know, and so it's, it's very empowering. Aaron: Absolutely. So you mentioned redistricting. And I know that this isn't on our list of topics, but how will that impact Alachua County voters?Aaron:
So it is very important to kind of know the background of redistricting - and reprecincting - for voters to understand how, of course, their participation in the elections may be impacted. So first of all, redistricting takes place every 10 years at all levels of government due to the publication of the data from the United States Census. So every level of government is taking a look at their boundaries, at their precincts, and at the different blocks geographically of where residents lived, where they have moved every 10 years to think about how they're going to lay out their maps and update those. And of course, with those maps, from our perspective in Elections, update where precincts are and who is assigned to precincts. Now, I will tell you changes to reprecincting, which is our office’s responsibility as the Supervisor of Elections, they were taken to minimize the amount of changes and disruption possible for voters. We were aiming to avoid split precincts and to avoid confusion and to try to maintain continuity while also ensuring that we were as consistent as possible with the maps within other levels of government. So it was a balancing act, but we really use a data-informed process to complete it. Now let's talk about exactly what voters need to know. First, voters will be receiving new voter information cards that will reflect the changes to redistricting and reprecincting. Hopefully by the end of June, we will be able to send those out. And it is very important that they both take a look at those cards and if they have any questions about it, call us or visit our website to check My Registration Status and see, you know, where they have been assigned, if there were any changes. Now I do want to clarify, the voter information cards do not serve as valid ID when you're voting in person. They are merely an informational resource. But they're going to provide you information about, for example, what State House District you may reside in. There have been some changes to the Florida State House map across the state. What state senate district you are voting in, and that may impact what representative may represent you or your voting for, or voting on, rather. You are going to have updates about what congressional district you live in. And of course, if there are any precinct changes to where you're supposed to go on election day. So it's very important for voters to both keep an eye out for those voter information cards to come. And I can't encourage it enough, give our office a call if you have any questions. I mean, I speak highly for a reason about our dedicated staff. You know, it's a team effort. We have the experience and we have the resources to help you if you have any questions about what's going on around Election Day.Tina:
Thank you very much. Is there anything you would like to add or anything else you would like to to talk about before we close?Aaron:
Sure, I think, you know, one thing I would encourage all voters to do this election year is, and keeping in mind some of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in previous years, and of course, the unexpected that we may deal with. Living in Florida, you know, the August primary’s taking place during hurricane season. So I encourage voters to make a plan to participate as much as possible. Some of that can be establishing very simple things they can do to feel more confident and empowered to vote. Figure out, are you going to vote by mail? Have you made that request? Are you planning on voting early? Are you planning on voting on Election Day? How are you going to get to the precinct, you know, what are your transportation options? What time of day do you plan on going, you know? On election day, it's open 7am to 7pm, but you’ll need to go to your assigned precinct. So what's the best way to get there? When can you fit in work, or possibly school, to make that happen? I would encourage voters from as early on as possible to make a plan. And of course, I know I'm repeating myself, give us a call if you need any help making that plan, because we really want Alachua County voters to feel comfortable participating in the upcoming elections.Tina:
One thing I didn't add, and I thought about it at the very end, but does the Supervisor of Election need volunteers for….? Aaron: Ah, we are absolutely accepting applicantsAaron:
to be election workers come early voting and Election Day. We're actually in the process of doing some trainings for our election workers right now. So you know, you can actually access the application on our website. If you scroll to the right of the website, you'll see a tab about becoming an election worker, and please, send that application to us, or give us a call if you have any questions. We would love to have you. We have a lot of different options for what you can do and, of course, when you can work for an election. You know, it's funny, we get people who were like, Yeah, you know, I'm not free on August 23rd, so I don't know if I can be an election worker. Oh, no, believe me! We can absolutely have your help for the early voting period in a myriad of different ways. You know, elections aren't just one day, you know, they have a pretty long range of dates where we're doing this work. So we would be happy to have you if you're interested. There are some requirements. So please look at those, including being a registered Alachua County voter, but please, absolutely. If you're interested, let us know.Tina:
Thank you very much. Thank you for being our guests today. And good luck with the upcoming election season. And have a nice day. Thank you. Aaron: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. [music] Thanks for listening to Patrons & Partnerships. If you know of an individual or organization you’d like to recommend for an interview, email us at email@example.com. To listen to more episodes, find us on anywhere you listen to podcasts. The library's annual summer art show is on. Artists aged 18 or older are invited to submit their artwork between July 1st and July 30th to see their art displayed in a virtual gallery on our website and on our social media. Visit our site and look under the Events tab for the link to the entry form. Alachua County teens ages 11 to 17 looking to read and flex their trivia skills this summer can join the library district's annual Battle of the Books. Participants receive free copies of the three books selected for the competition, then face off in the Battle of the Books on July 23rd on Zoom. Check this episode description for a link to register.