Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Caribbean Americans Voting is Your Power

Written by Marlon Hill

Voting is a fundamental piece of the puzzle of democracy.  One person, one vote.  Collectively, each of these votes could transform a community, a state, a country, and quite possibly, the world.  Despite all attempts to curtail this sacred right across America,  no one can take away your right to vote.  Simply, if you are a US citizen, 18 years old (not a convicted felon), you can vote with picture ID in most states.   It is your responsibility to confirm your requirements to vote in your state and to exercise your right.
 
In  Florida, for many eligible counties in Florida, you can request, receive and vote with your absentee ballot in one trip to your local Supervisor of Elections office.  In other words, you need not have to wait until the early voting period or on Election Day.  Simply, all you have to do is head to your closest Supervisor of Elections office with a current, valid photo ID. When you’re there, request your absentee ballot in person, and then complete and return your ballot right there on the spot! Easy as 1-2-3.  Most importantly, don’t forget to sign your ballot envelope.
 
In addition, you also have the option to take advantage of early voting hours which begin on Saturday, October 27th, and ends on Saturday, November 3rd.  Early Voting will also be available Sunday, October 28.
 
Alternatively, you may also choose to vote by mail (absentee voting).  As of the date of this article, more than 400,000 Floridians chose to vote by mail.  Any registered Florida voter can vote by mail.  In order to take advantage of this convenient option, you must submit your request to your Supervisor of Elections to have a ballot mailed to you no later than 5:00 p.m. local time on October 31st.  Upon receipt of your ballot, you may take your time to conduct your research and complete your ballot, but your voted ballot must be received by your Supervisor of Elections no later than 7:00 p.m. local time on Election Day, November 6th.  This year, your absentee ballot is self-addressed with the appropriate postage.  After mailing your absentee ballot, you may contact your Supervisor of Elections to confirm receipt and processing or you may check your status online.  If you decide to return in person, it is recommended to deliver directly to the office of Supervisor of Elections.
 
In the event you are compulsive about protecting your right to vote and deciding against voting absentee and decide to vote early or on the day of, be sure to bring a photo ID that includes your signature, like a driver’s license or state ID card. If your photo ID doesn’t have your signature, you can bring a second ID that does include your signature (for example: bring your student ID and your debit card).  The following photo IDs will be accepted:
 

  • Florida driver’s license
  • Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • United States passport
  • Debit or credit card
  • Military identification
  • Student identification
  • Retirement center identification
  • Neighborhood association identification
  • Public assistance identification

For more information, contact your local Supervisor of Elections. You can reach your supervisor through the state Division of Elections:  Florida’s Voter Assistance Hotline at 1-866-308-6739.   For your US citizen family residing abroad, please encourage them to request their absentee ballots at http://www.fvap.gov.  Their ballot request will be based on the state of their last residence.
 
We live in a democracy of the people, for the people and by the people. Your vote is your power.  Do not take it for granted.  It is recommended that you take advantage of the early voting options due to the length of the ballot and expected delays at the polls.  You have the options to exercise this right freely in voting tomorrow at your convenience, voting during early time period, voting absentee from home, or voting on Election Day. It is in your hands.

About the Author
Marlon A. Hill is a partner with the Miami law firm of delancyhill, P.A. and the immediate past Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board member for the Southern United States.

About the author

Marlon Hill

Marlon Hill, Miami attorney with Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel and radio commentator with WZAB 880AM, Caribbean Riddims, D' People's Politics