By Jacob Kovach
Alachua County residents will have easier access to early voting options with the addition of three new early voting sites for the 2018 General Election.
The Legacy Park Multipurpose Center in Alachua, Melrose United Methodist Church and J. Wayne Reitz Union will be used for 2018 General Election early voting.
Both the Legacy Park Multipurpose Center and Melrose United Methodist Church were used as 2018 Primary Election early voting locations. The J. Wayne Reitz Union, located in the center of the University of Florida’s campus, was added as a location following a ruling from a federal judge allowing the selection of locations on college or university campuses.
Early voting for the 2018 General Election will begin Oct. 22 and last through Nov. 3. All locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
During the Primary Election, the Alachua and Melrose early voting locations saw lower traffic than the locations that were open in previous years – a fact that Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim A. Barton expected.
“As these locations remain open for future elections and more voters become aware of them, we anticipate an increase in the number of voters at each location,” Barton said, adding that her office is unsure what early voting turnout will be like at the J. Wayne Reitz Union.
Barton, who was elected in 2016, said that the opening of the new locations represents an important expansion of services to voters who live outside Gainesville and those who live or work near or on the University of Florida campus.
The Millhopper Branch Library, Tower Road Branch Library and the Supervisor of Elections Office, all in Gainesville, have been used as early voting locations for multiple elections, though the Supervisor of Elections Office moved to its current location on North Main Street in 2016.
Barton stressed the importance and convenience of alternatives to Election Day voting, especially due to the unprecedented length of the 2018 General Election ballot, which could include up to 17 ballot measures for voters in Gainesville. In addition to early voting, any voter in Alachua County can request a vote-by-mail ballot – no reason or excuse needed.
Alachua County voters can request a vote-by-mail ballot by going to VoteAlachua.com/MBRS or calling 352-374-5252.
“We work hard to make sure that voters have options when it comes to casting their ballots. Whether you vote early, vote by mail or vote on Election Day, we just want to ensure that your voice is heard,” Barton said.
Jacob Kovach is a communications intern for the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections. D