Floridians: It’s time to vote. Are you ready?

Voting by mail underway; early voting begins this week

File photo (Rogelio V. Solis, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

That Thomas Jefferson quote also appears at the top of this year’s Voter’s Guide, and it wasn’t chosen casually. Jefferson also said, “...voting at elections is one of the most important rights.”

As Northeast Florida’s most visited local news provider, News4JAX treats our mandate to inform our viewers as our civic duty.

So again this year we have assembled a comprehensive voter’s guide, helping empower you by providing information about nearly 300 candidates and issues on the ballots across the 11 Florida counties in our viewing area.

Those candidates, ranging in age from 23 to 87, come from four different parties, and increasingly, many who represent no party at all (NPA).

Yes, all this sounds intimidating. Why do you think suffrage is another name for voting?

There is good news. Most voters will only see a handful of races on their ballot. Plus, we’ve prepared voter’s guides for 20 years, and again this year we researched all the candidates and try to make it easy to find out something about the men and women asking for your vote.

We’ve got interactive maps to help you find your congressional, state Senate and state House districts, and we break all the local races down by county. We help you learn something about the candidates’ backgrounds and their views on the issues in the race.

Voting by mail in the Aug. 23 primary began last month and 1,524,881 ballots had been received statewide by Sunday morning. With early voting ending across the state this weekend, more than a half million ballots were cast in person.

Why vote?

Coming off the November 2020 election with the largest voter turnout in history (71.7% in Florida), Duval County’s supervisor of elections projects that 30% of registered voters will cast a ballot in this month’s primary. Simple math shows that if two-thirds of voters stay home, every vote cast makes a bigger difference in the outcome of an election.

Many races — including the congressional seat representing two-thirds of Jacksonville — will be decided in the primary or face only token opposition in November’s general election.

Jacksonville voters are picking a new sheriff, two city council members, two school board members and deciding on a property tax increase to give teachers raises this month. Sure, a few of those races may go to a runoff, but why not pick from a full slate of candidates rather than let others choose who you can pick from?

Do the citizens of your county/state/county a favor by spending a little time preparing to vote. Look up your election status and get the official sample ballot. Do your own research into the candidates or spend some time looking over the races in your area in our Voter’s Guide, where you can read what each candidate says about the issues before you cast your ballot.

For the 20% of candidates who didn’t respond to our questionnaire, we’ve provided a link to their website or social media so you can learn something about them. (And to the candidates who haven’t submitted their answers, there’s still time! Search your inbox for a @wjxt.com email or check your voicemail.)

If you don’t prepare, you may be surprised when you see that ballot. You might find yourself filling in that bubble based on name recognition, seeing a negative TV ad or a friend’s recommendation. Is that any way to pick our leaders?

About the Author:

Digital election producer in 2022. He created WJXT.com in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.