The 2018 midterm election is here and voters in Hillsborough County have choices to make that will have an impact on the balance of Congress to who will lead the state of Florida from Tallahassee for the next four years to two local sales tax referendums on the ballot. Let this be your guide, from a former campaign manager, to make the voting process for Hillsborough County November 2018 election simple and fast.

The first thing to know is the midterm election is already under way in Florida. Tens of thousands of voters have already cast their ballot by mail, and Early Voting begins in Hillsborough County on October 22nd. “Hillsborough County voters like the convenience of voting before Election Day. The majority of our voters vote by mail or during Early Voting,” said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. “And I encourage that. Don’t forget – Election Day is your last day to vote, not the first.”

There are three ways to vote in Hillsborough County, here are some advantages of each option:

Vote by Mail: Voting by mail is a GREAT choice for the November 2018 midterm election in Florida because the ballot will be long, two pages, double sided with proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution and two local referendums. This allows you to take your time considering the candidates and issues on the ballot and fill it out at your convenience. One major advantage to the Vote by Mail option is the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections has paid the return postage for your ballot! Not every SOE office does this, and it is a great option if you feel you do not have the time to vote in person.

A common concern from voters is how to tell if their ballot has been received and counted by the Supervisor of Elections. There are a couple of options for this: first, the Hillsborough SOE has a tracker on their website, where you can see if your ballot has been processed. Second, there is a secure ballot box at front of each Early Voting site and the Supervisor of Elections offices you can place your ballot in instead of putting it in the mail. This is a good option if you still have your mail ballot on final weekend before Election Day and are concerned about it arriving to the Supervisor of Elections before the election is over.  The deadline to request a Vote by Mail ballot for the November 2018 general election in Florida is October 31st at 5 p.m.  Your mail ballot must be turned in by 7 p.m. on November 6th. 

Early Voting: For the November 2018 election, there will be 20 early voting sites in Hillsborough County. All 20 Early Voting sites in Hillsborough County will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from October 22nd to November 4th, including weekends. The newest site will be at The Yuengling Center (formerly known as USF Sun Dome) at the University of South Florida .Traditionally, the busiest Early Voting sites are Bloomingdale Regional Library in Valrico, Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa and Jimmie B Keel Regional Library in Carrollwood. If you want the chance to talk to a candidate or their staff before walking into vote, one of these three libraries will give you the best chance of that happening. Early voting is a great choice if you want the feel of voting in-person but at a time that is convenient for you. 

Check out the graphic below to see all the early voting sites in Hillsborough County and pick the one works best to you. Any voter registered in Hillsborough County can vote at any of the early voting sites, your ballot is printed on demand with the local races for your area, no matter which site you use to vote. If you support a candidate or issue, early voting is a great place to volunteer to sign wave as voters arrive. 

Map of early voting locations in Hillsborough County for November 2018 election

Election Day: This is the traditional election day, this year it is on November 6th. On election day, you MUST vote at your local precinct. You can find this on your voter registration card or online with the Supervisor of Elections precinct finder tool. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. One advantage of waiting to vote until election day is you know all possible information that comes out about candidates and issues, along with the traditional feel of going to your neighborhood precinct on a specific Tuesday. But keep in mind if you have any surprise issues, such as car trouble or have to work late, there is a higher chance of not voting than there would be with early voting or voting by mail. Final election results will be announced shortly after the polls close on Tuesday, November 6th. 

I would not be a former local campaign manager if I did not beg you to vote in down ballot races. You know what a U.S. Senator does at the top of your ballot, but know there are important races and issues that will have a major impact on your life further down the ballot. There are races for the Hillsborough County Commission, School Board, and two local sales tax increases (one for transportation, one for schools) on the ballot this year. If you live in Temple Terrace, you will have a few city charter amendments on your ballot as well.

No matter how you vote on candidates or issues for the November 2018 general election in Hillsborough County, we hope this makes your voting process easy!

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Cover photo courtesy of & in-article image courtesy Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.