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Orange, Seminole Counties Gear Up For A Busy Election Day

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Orange County Supervisors of Elections Office. Photo: Renata Sago.

Orange County Supervisors of Elections Office. Photo: Renata Sago.

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How central Florida votes will be key to several contentious races at the state and federal level, which is why elections supervisors here are trying to make sure that voting at the polls runs smoothly. In Orange County, elections workers will be using iPads for the first time to check in voters and update any important personal information.

“They can look up a voter’s status and help the voter find out if they’re in the right place or if they belong someplace else with a new address, or, they’re not eligible to vote,” said elections supervisor Bill Cowles, who expects the technology will manage long lines.

A successful fourteen-day early voting period drew more than 52 percent of registered voters. Cowles wants to remind those who plan to cast their ballots today to make sure they know their designated polling location ahead of time.

“We don’t want people going thinking they can vote because it was an early voting site,” he said. “On Election Day, your assigned polling place based on your address is where you must vote.”

Cowles is encouraging voters to go online or call his office ahead of time to check their polling location. Although Florida law allows voters with new addresses to update them at the polls, he said they should call the county elections office ahead of time to prevent a long wait.

He anticipates that some nonpartisan groups may be at certain sites to make sure voters know their rights, but he said his staff is also equipped to help out.

With social media buzzing about voter fraud and intimidation, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel knows all eyes are on the polls. He said poll workers armed with cellphones and nearby sheriff’s deputies will be on alert for any problems. As for problems with voting machines, he is not worried.

“There’s been a lot of concern from folks about rigged elections and hacking the election. You can’t hack paper,” said Ertel. “So voting on paper, filling in a bubble, watching as that piece of paper goes into a machine, it’s one of the most trusted processes that you can vote in in the entire world. And that’s what we have here in Florida.”

Nearly 60 percent of registered voters in Seminole County have already voted, he said, thanks to mail in and early voting.

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