The concept of early voting is undergoing a transformation.
While the office of Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon opens up two early voting sites Saturday, the office has already sent out nearly 900 mail ballots and had more than 250 cast and returned.
Absentee ballots went out July 24; military and overseas ballots went out earlier, 45 days prior to the Aug. 28 primary.
In a county of just over 10,000 eligible voters, those absentee and mailed ballots represent roughly 9 percent of the voting populace.
“We are humming right along,” Hanlon said. “We get requests for a mailed ballot almost every day.
“I do see a busy few months ahead. Of course, the presidential years are the busiest years, but it does seem to be on a pace to busier than a typical midterm election.”
And, having recently received grant funding for cybersecurity upgrades, Hanlon said he sees no evidence that Gulf County could be one of those counties a certain U.S. Senator has said have already been breached by Russian hackers.
“You would hope that if that was true and they were aware, they would alert us ahead of time so we could take steps,” Hanlon said.
The Florida Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported last week they had found no evidence the assertions were true.
Early voting begins Saturday and will continue daily through the following Saturday, Aug. 25.
Hanlon’s staff will man two early-voting sites, the Supervisor of Elections Office at 401 Long Ave. in Port St. Joe and the Wewahitchka Public Library at 314 N. 2nd Street.
Voting on Saturday will be 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET (7 a.m. until 4 p.m. CT) and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET (8 a.m. until 4 p.m. CT) on Sunday.
Monday through Friday voting will be 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. ET (6:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. CT) daily.
The last day of early voting will be Aug. 25, when voting will be held 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET (7 a.m. until 4 p.m. CT).
There are 4,837 registered Republicans in Gulf County and 3,968 Democrats; add in those who register with no party affiliation or with a minor party and the total Gulf County electorate is 10.096.
Ballots will vary depending on party and precinct where the voter casts their ballot during any Election Day.
Two of the local races on the ballot, for School Board Districts 1 and 5, are non-partisan.
All voters in Precincts 1 and 8, Honeyville and Howard Creek, respectively, and voting in Wewahitchka will decide between Bernadette Hackett and Dennis McGlon.
All voters in Precincts 5 and 7, Centennial Building and the Cape San Blas Fire Station, respectively, and voting in Port St. Joe will have a choice between Ruby Knox and Barbara Radcliff.
The primary voting in effect is the general election in both school races.
“The non-partisan races will be on both the Republican and Democrat ballots, but if the voter is registered as no party affiliation and are in precincts 1, 5, 7, 8, the school board races will not be on their ballots,” Hanlon said.
There is one local partisan race, for the District 4 seat on the Board of County Commissioners, between Democrats Sandy Quinn, Jr., the incumbent, and challenger Tan Smiley.
Democratic voters who typically cast their ballots at the Port St. Joe Fire Station, and voting in Port St. Joe, will determine who will advance to the November general election against two no-party affiliation candidate.
All other local races will be decided in November.
State, federal races
That is not to say the voters will not have much more on their ballot.
On the GOP side, voters will cast ballots to determine November candidates for U.S. Senate, Florida Governor, Florida Attorney General and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.
Democrat voters will have choices for Governor, Florida Attorney General, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and a candidate for the Second Congressional District.