By Steve Plunkett
March 7 is when early voting begins and is also the deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot online for the presidential primary and local contests in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Briny Breezes, South Palm Beach and Lantana.
This year vote-by-mail, the fastest-growing way to cast a ballot in Palm Beach County, features prepaid postage, Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link said.
“We’re hoping that helps everybody, not just because of the money but because not many people have stamps anymore,” Link said at a Feb. 4 meeting of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations. Also new this year, voters will fill in an oval next to a candidate’s name; X’s or check marks will not count. Before, voters connected a broken arrow to signify each choice.
Link, appearing the morning after Iowa’s Democratic caucus, said she was grateful not to be in that state, where results were disputed for weeks. “Our goal — we’ve talked about what a success looks like in our office … our goal is to not be in the news,” she said.
People who still want to vote by mail can visit one of Link’s offices to have a ballot printed out. The South County branch office is at 345 S. Congress Ave. in Room 110. Mail ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, March 17.
Early voting will end on Sunday, March 15; the hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year Boca Raton’s early voting site has moved — to the Spanish River Library, 1501 NW Spanish River Blvd.
Other South County early voting sites are west of Boca Raton at the West Boca Branch Library, 18685 U.S. 441; west of Delray Beach at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library, 14350 Hagen Ranch Road, and the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road; and in Boynton Beach at the Ezell Hester Community Center, 1901 N. Seacrest Blvd.
Link said her office’s website, pbcelections.org, gives wait times for early voting sites and on Election Day will show tallies of how many people cast ballots by mail, by early voting and in person.
More than 975,000 voters are registered to vote in Palm Beach County; 42% are Democrats, 30% are with minor parties or no party affiliation (NPA), 28% are Republicans. Link said few voters switch parties.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of people switching to NPA because they don’t want all the mail,” she said.
Scott Singer, who is running for a full term as Boca Raton mayor after winning a 19-month term in 2018, offered another way to avoid political postcards and phone calls.
“As someone who knows a little bit about campaigning, the best way to avoid mail and calls is to get a vote-by-mail ballot and return it immediately ’cause most campaigns are checking. So if you don’t want to get calls, turn your ballot in,” Singer said.