RiseMagazine | Sarasota

The Premier Lifestyle Magazine of Florida's Black Communities

Understanding the Changes

While the weather may have caused some delays, it would have taken more than a little rain to stop these citizens from getting informed and expressing their concerns at a community forum organized by Secretary of Elections Kathy Dent. With attendance looming near the 40 to 50 mark, it was an average turnout on an above-average topic.

Looking much like a rockband on a tour that’s starting to take its toll, the SOE and her staff delivered key, relevant information regarding the reasoning behind the changes to Sarasota’s voting precincts and polling locations through a direct spoken and visual presentation. This included maps, charts and graphs to illustrate the reconfiguration and consolidation of precincts.

Following an arduous schedule of appearances, Dent and her staff chose to take to the roads, sharing this information and educating the public to the changes ahead.

– Tue., June 12 (District 5): R. L. Anderson Administration Center – 4000 Tamiami Trail South, Venice
– Wed., June 13 (District 4): Twin Lakes Park – 6700 Clark Rd., Sarasota
– Tue., June 19 (District 2): Selby Library – 1331 1st St., Sarasota
– Wed., June 20 (District 3): Morgan Family Community Center – 6207 West Price Blvd, North Port
– Thu., June 21 (District 1): Robert Taylor Community Complex – 1845 34th St., Sarasota

To address concerns of travel hardships, the furthest distances a constituent would have to cover within the newly formed precincts was also highlighted. The greatest distance noted was approximately 7 miles. Within the Newtown precinct, that distance was just 1.4 miles.

There had been much ado over concerns that this process was a political strategy to disenfranchise black Democrats that was drawn up by the Republican party. More than one attendee shared this sentiment. Conspiracy theories aside, the modification of precinct lines happens every 10 years, regardless to who may hold the Presidential office.

It would appear that every care has been taken to make this election cycle more accessible than ever before through the use of absentee ballots and early voting. Even provisional voting, which would allow someone without adequate id at the time they’re casting their vote, to still participate via signature confirmation with registration records, is being implemented. Absentee ballots can be requested by calling the office and requesting them.

It was noted that a consensus of Supervisors of Election would prefer a mail-in election process. If Sarasota didn’t have any representation within this primary, that could have been an option.

The consolidation of polling precincts from 154 down to just 95 will also present a cost savings to the county. Though exact figures couldn’t be quoted, SOE Dent approximated that at least $100,000 in operational savings would be realized.

In our currently recovering, though still “down”, economy, a move like that would have my vote!

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