JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Early voting begins Saturday for a special Jacksonville City Council election to replace the seat left vacant when Tommy Hazouri died in September.
Democrat Tracye Polson and Republican Nick Howland are vying for the At-Large City Council Group 3 seat. That means every registered voter in Duval County can participate.
The process of tabulating ballots has already started. On Monday, workers were opening vote-by-mail ballots to prepare them to be fed into the machine that will count the votes. The results won’t be known until election night.
More than 81,000 vote-by-mail ballots have been sent out for the special election.
Since the ballots only contain two names, it’s not expected that there will be a lot of mistakes on marking the ballots. Any ballot that has mistakes, like crossing something out, will later be inspected by the canvassing board.
Because these are vote-by-mail ballots, signatures of the voters are on the outside and not on the ballot, guaranteeing no one will know how someone voted. Those signatures are checked by a computer and a set of human eyes to make sure they match the signatures on file. If they don’t, they are reviewed by others and the voter is notified before the election and is given a chance to fix it. It’s called curing the ballot.
At last check, 212 cure notices had been sent out to those who have questionable signatures, and 17 people had responded. If they don’t respond two days after election day, their vote won’t count. That is why it’s important for anyone who votes by mail to make sure they have an updated signature on file with the supervisor of elections office.
In this special election, it’s not anticipated many will show up to vote.
“A lot of people are still not aware there’s a special election on the 22nd, so getting that message out is always difficult,” said Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan. “We don’t drive turnout. The candidates drive turnout.”
Even though it’s expected to be a very low turnout, each precinct will be open election day, Feb. 22, and 15 early voting sites will be available starting Saturday.
It will cost the same as any other election: Over $1 million.
Early voting runs from Saturday to Feb. 20. Election day is Feb. 22.