Voting 101

More than a quarter-million Marion County residents are registered to vote this year and election officials and workers are at the ready.

“The polls are open at Precinct 0001.” That’s what the clerk will say at precisely 7am on November 3rd at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Ocala. At the same time, clerks will declare polls open at all 122 precincts across Marion County. It’s Election Day.

There might be a few people lined up at 7am, but there probably won’t be a line the rest of the day. The poll deputy opens the door and electronic pollbook operators are waiting to verify the voters and issue their ballots. Since 2004, Florida law has required that voters provide a photo and signature ID, and that election workers check the information against data the Elections Center receives from voter registrations, the motor vehicles office and the United States Postal Service. Despite rumors about election security, Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox says voter fraud is extremely rare. The most common reason an election worker can’t verify a voter is because they’re at the wrong precinct.

“Florida law requires you to vote in the precinct in which you reside,” Wilcox explains, adding that for certain races, such as State Senator or Representative in Congress, a voter must vote in his or her home district, so ballots are different from one precinct to another.

Election workers are trained to check the required identification quickly and accurately and to provide the best possible customer service to allow voters to cast their ballots securely and efficiently. Wilcox says the best way to understand how elections are secured is to engage with your state and local officials or to serve as an election worker and support the election process yourself.

With more than 30 years of experience with state and national elections, Wilcox is the only Florida official who serves on the U.S. Elections Security Executive Committee and he sees it as his personal duty to make sure every eligible voter in Marion County has the opportunity to participate in each election and to ensure votes are securely and accurately counted. 

“The biggest threat to our democracy is misinformation and disinformation,” Wilcox says.  “Don’t fall prey to disinformation about your election from untrusted sources.”

To verify your registration, get polling place information and sample ballots, or get details about early voting and vote-by-mail, Wilcox urges Marion County to contact his office or visit www.votemarion.gov

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