Candidates wrapping up their final pushes as primary approaches on Aug. 18

Chambless: More vote-by-mail ballots already received than any other primary

By Bruce Hope bruce@opcfla.com
Posted 8/12/20

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The primary election is next week, meaning the crowded and sometimes continuous campaigns for sherrif, superintendent and tax collector essentially will be over.

Clay County …

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Candidates wrapping up their final pushes as primary approaches on Aug. 18

Chambless: More vote-by-mail ballots already received than any other primary

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The primary election is next week, meaning the crowded and sometimes continuous campaigns for sherrif, superintendent and tax collector essentially will be over.

Clay County voters will play essential roles in elections that will play significant roles on local and national levels. Voters have and will execute their civic duties in different ways. They will physically stand in line to vote at the polls, or they will use the vote-by-mail system as well as early voting. COVID-19 plays a role (while not the only consideration) in the way that residents are voting.

Vote-by-mail – formerly called absentee – is a convenient method of voting that has shown substantial growth over the past several years, according to county Director of Elections Chris Chambless.

“We as a society, more and more in a given day, have come to demand flexibility,” he said. “It’s about that convenience and that flexibility. It’s why we have drive-throughs and dry-cleaners, and voting is no different. We had seen a growth of voting by mail over the last several years, and that would go with early voting as well.”

Chambless says that there have been more vote-by-mail ballots cast this year than any other in the history of Clay County.

“You have to give a nod to the fact that thankfully, Clay County is a growing county,” he said. “You would have that increase just in growth alone. But I think its also given the fact that a lot of individuals have heard our messaging about the need to vote early, to vote by mail, in an effort to reduce the potential for lines on election day.”

As of the close of business Monday, there were more vote-by-mail ballots returned than in any other primary in history. With eight days remaining in the elections from that point, Chambless expects to even bigger records set for vote-by-mail ballots.

The three critical local elections – county sheriff, school superintendent and tax collector – are nearing their conclusions. The field in the crowded Florida 3rd Congressional District will be pared to one Democrat and one Republican. These races are pivotal, and their importance in the county are well known.

“Candidates now as we are approaching the wire. The recipe for success is undoubtedly is putting a ground game together with two purposes in mind,” said Chambless. “First and foremost, you want to hit as many individuals as possible to impress upon them why your candidacy for your campaign is richer or more robust than any other. Number two, you’re going to want to get the turnout, because turnout is what everybody is looking for right now to put their contest above the rest.”

It is difficult to get a picture of the polling numbers as they currently stand. Votes cannot be released until election night, so the tallies per candidate can’t yet be calculated. Chambless is, however, paying attention to trends in turnout for voting. He says there is currently a 12% turnout of eligible voters. Everything is taken into account, from weather to traffic patterns, to try and discern how it will affect voting.

Overall, he is happy with what he’s seen in the election process.

“I am very pleased with how well the election is coming off so far,” Chambless said. “I think voters realize the importance of voting. They are seeing the precautions we have put in place. They are taking precautions themselves… and coming out and taking part of this important process.”

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