Early voting begins Monday

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Posted October 16, 2020 | By Bill Thompson, Ocala Gazette

Voters have two weeks to cast ballots at locations around Marion

As if we needed it, Marion County Elections Supervisor Wesley Wilcox has offered another reminder that an election looms.

Early, in-person voting begins Monday and will continue through Oct. 31, Wilcox’s office announced this week.

Accordingly, Wilcox will open nine sites to voters. They include:

  • Wilcox’s headquarters at 981 N.E. 16th St. in Ocala
  • The Belleview Public Library, 13145 S.E. County Road 484
  • The Deputy Brian Litz Building, 9048 S.W. State Road 200
  • The Dunnellon Public Library, 20351 Robinson Rd.
  • The Forest Public Library, 905 South County Road 314A in Ocklawaha
  • The Freedom Public Library, 5870 S.W. 95th St. in Ocala
  • The Reddick Community Center, 4345 N.W. 152nd St.
  • The Silver Springs Shores Community Center, 590 Silver Rd.
  • The Villages Mulberry Center, 8445 S.E. 156th Mulberry Lane in Summerfield

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

In a press release, Wilcox noted that the first few days of early voting tend to be busy.

During the contentious 2016 general election, more than 5,000 voters combined turned out at all polling locations each day for the first five days of early voting. Turnout tapered off in the middle of that season, before accelerating again in the closing days.

For 2020, though, Wilcox’s office is also taking measures to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.

Thus, with normal early rush and enhanced safety steps, he encourages prospective early voters to be patient and anticipate longer wait times.

For those who may want to duck a larger crowd, Wilcox noted that the early-voting foot traffic is historically smaller at the Forest Public Library, Reddick Community Center, Silver Springs Shores Community Center and Dunnellon Public Library.

Meanwhile, Wilcox also notes that voters can still obtain mail-in ballots until 5 p.m. on Oct. 24.

Those interested in voting by this method can request a ballot by visiting www.VoteMarion.Gov, emailing VoteByMail@VoteMarion.Gov, or calling (352) 620-3290.

Wilcox reminds voters that in order for mail-in ballots to count they must be received by his office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. The U.S. Postal Service is encouraging voters to mail their ballot at least a week prior to Nov. 3 to ensure it will be delivered in time.

Mail-in ballots can also be returned to the secure ballot drop box at the main elections office or at any open early voting site during hours the polls are open. And new for this election, voters who may be concerned about ballot security can now sign up for mail-in ballot status notifications at www.MarionBallotTrax.com.

Statewide, as of Wednesday, 1.9 million Floridians had already submitted mail-in ballots.

In Marion County, that tally was 39,157, out of nearly 90,000 requested.

Comparatively, for the 2016 election, 38,016 county voters cast mail-in ballots.

For those who still prefer traditional, in-person voting on Election Day, Wilcox notes that on Nov. 3 they are required to cast a ballot at their home precinct. He encourages voters to look up their assigned voting location before heading to the polls. That can be found at www.VoteMarion.gov/MyPrecinct.

On Nov. 3, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all of Marion County’s 122 precincts. To vote, the state requires voters to present a current, valid ID with photo and signature.

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