Early voting in Santa Rosa County for the August 30 primary kicked off Monday, for voters wanting to avoid the Election Day crush at the polls.
Santa Rosa County is definitely one of the reddest in Florida. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by a nearly three-to-one margin, 75,000 to 26,000. Minor party and no party affiliation also surpass Democrats, at nearly 27,000.
“All early voting locations are open through August 27th, from 8:30 to 4:30. So that’s 13 consecutive days we will have early voting in Santa Rosa County,” said Tappie Villane, the county’s Supervisor of Elections.
The four voting locations are the same as in previous election cycles: two each in the northern and southern ends of Santa Rosa County.
•Main Elections Office, 6495 Caroline St., Suite “F,” in Milton,
•South Service Center -- one block east of the Zoo at 5841 Gulf Breeze Parkway in Gulf Breeze,
•Tiger Point Community Center, also in Gulf Breeze,
•Pace Community Center, 5976 Chumuckla Highway, in Pace.
Counties can go as long as 14 days in early voting, at a minimum eight hours per day. Villane says their days and hours were set based on the county’s early voting venues.
“We’re mandated to do at least eight days of early voting a minimum of eight hours a day, but we can go as far as 14 days,” Villane says. “We actually offer 13 days of early voting. Our voters like the additional days, and we only have the four locations. So it just seems to work better for our county.”
Villane says while the presidential primary in March was more high-profile, voters need to come out for this one.
“There’s [sic] a lot of local races that will be decided, and we also have a couple of county issues that are on,” says Villane. “The sales tax for a courthouse here, and a sales tax for infrastructure.”
One of the “X” factors in any election is turnout. In the 2014 primary, with Gov. Rick Scott up for re-election, less than 15 percent of Santa Rosa residents cast ballots. But with the higher number of grassroots races up for grabs this year, those numbers are expected to be somewhat larger.
“If you look at primaries during a presidential year, historically [turnout] has been around 22-25 percent,” said Villane. “We’re hoping with the number of races on the ballot, and along with the county issues, hopefully we’ll do a little bit better than that this year.”
Before entering the booth or filling out the mailed ballot, Santa Rosa’s Tappie Villane encourages voters to do their homework on candidates and issues.
“That we you know exactly what you want to vote on,” Villane said. “We sent sample ballots out last week. We have lots of folks that bring in their marked sample ballot. Then they go into the voting booth and have that to go by.”
Those wishing to vote in the primary, either early or on Election Day, will need to bring some form of photo ID. More information is available at the county Supervisor of Elections website, www.votesantarosa.com.