published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Early voting under way in three locations
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - It rolls around once every four years and the presidential elections are a very busy time at the Highlands County Supervisor of Elections office. This year's cycle might be the busiest yet during the career of outgoing elections supervisor Joe Campbell. He has predicted 70 percent of the voters will cast their ballots locally.
"That's about what it runs," he said. "In 2008 people were predicting 90 percent turn out - but it turned out to be 68.8 percent."
Campbell said this year may be a bit higher - based on the fact that 9,800 absentee ballots went out in 2008 but as of Friday, his office already had processed more than 10,000 requests.
The absentee requests started at the beginning of October with the overseas ballots being mailed out first. The pace has picked up rapidly with some 250-300 requests coming in each day as of last week.
"Of course the phones never stop ringing," he said.
Requests by mail will come to an end this coming Wednesday. Beginning Thursday, voters will be able to come in and pick up absentee ballots for those that need them,
"Not just anybody can get them; they will need to bring a note from the person requesting the ballot and they will have to show us their identification before we can hand them a ballot," Campbell explained.
Early voting also opened on Saturday and will run through next Saturday. The locations will be the same as always, in the city council chambers in Avon Park, at the Lake Placid Town Hall and at the Government Center in Sebring.
Some people have been coming in to Campbell's offices in the Government Center to cast their ballots in person.
"They mostly want to make sure it goes into the machine," Campbell explained. "There are some folks who think that we send our ballots out of the country to be counted and of course we don't - we count them right here."
There have not been many unusual incidents in this year's elections, however, Campbell revealed that one of those official-looking letters informing certain voters that their citizenship may be in question has surfaced in Highlands County.
"It came in to the Avon Park area," he said. "We got it Friday. Luckily the person saved all the paperwork, letter and all."
Campbell urged anyone receiving such a missive to save it and call his office so it may be turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
"We have steps to follow so they need to call us," he said.
The letter is written on what appears to be a replica of a supervisor of elections letterhead with a flag and eagle It bears the name of the local supervisor of elections on it and says questions have arisen about the person's eligibility to vote. There are instructions and warnings both in English and in Spanish
"The letters aren't signed and that's what looks fishy," Campbell said.
He described it as "a scare tactic" but against who is not clear, as they apparently go to citizens of both parties. Investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who also are working on the case said it appears at least some of the missives actually had been postmarked in Seattle, Wash.
"I had hoped we wouldn't have any," Campbell said
This will be Campbell's last election after serving four terms in office. He was elected in 1996 when his then-boss Jimmy Whitehouse retired.
"I worked 11 years for Jimmy and another 11 years at the property appraiser's office before that," Campbell said. "I just figured it was time to retire."
In any case, it appears that Campbell will go out with a bang. He described this year's elelction as "a good one". In addition to redistricting, there are lots of candidates and issues on the ballot including Florida constitutional amendments and merit retention for judges.
"I'll be glad when this one's over," he said. "I'm hoping there won't be a recount required."
when? (by: philip a. bache - 10/28/2012)
i don't see any times for early voting. what's up?
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