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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s primary is Aug. 23, and early voting will begin Monday in Duval County.
Many voters may find some changes regarding their voting sites. Duval County did have 199 precincts, but with the upcoming election, that number is now 187.
Even though Jacksonville is growing in population, the number of precincts is shrinking because of the popularity of early voting, fewer people showing up on election day and new technology like being able to quickly scan voters’ information.
About 600,000 in the county will be getting a new registration card, which will tell you where you can vote.
RESOURCE: 2022 Voter’s Guide
The newer ways to vote are why we are seeing fewer precincts. For example, Pablo Creek Regional Library used to be the home of two voting sites — precincts 307 and 312. Now, it’s just one — 312.
News4JAX talked with Duval County Chief Elections Officer Robert Phillips about these changes.
“But if you’re going to go vote on election day, just take your voter information card, just look at it from your location before you go just to make sure you’re going to the right spot,” Phillips said.
Phillips said there have been location changes throughout Duval County.
“You may have had a polling location right across the street from you, and for whatever reason, it might not be there anymore,” Phillips said.
And not only have polling places changed for some, but districts involving local state and congressional candidates have changed.
District changes create confusion among voters
In the upcoming primary, there are several special elections in Duval County, and some of those races are creating confusion. Plus, some voters are also confused about what district they live in and why they are not voting for a candidate they were able to before.
This is a unique election year. With reapportionment for congressional races and new city council districts, as well as a special election in council, that means the old boundary lines are in play, but the new lines will take effect in a year.
Even though this upcoming election is a primary, where normally you chose candidates for a particular party, that’s not the case in many of the races — like the special election for sheriff where every registered county voter can participate and the special Jacksonville City Council election for two council seats.
Councilman Garrett Dennis, who represents District 9, and Reggie Gaffney, who represents District 7, are both stepping down to run for another office. That is why there is a special election this month to replace their seats for the next year.
James Ross thought he could vote in that race in District 7, but when he got his sample ballot, that race was not on it.
“I was surprised that we can’t. Why can’t we? I mean, I want to know why we can’t since they did the redistricting. So when does that actually come to fruition as far as when does that happen?” Ross said.
The reason: The council district maps were redrawn this year but don’t apply to this special election. They will in the future — about a year from now when the seats are up for the full four-year term.
It’s not only city council districts that have changes, so have congressional districts. For example, there are new lines for Congressional District 4, where we will see a new member of Congress elected, and in District 5, where U.S. Rep. John Rutherford is seeking reelection. Some who voted for him before may no longer live in his district. And it’s not just Congress.
“You may have been in one congressional district before and now you’re in another one. The numbers changed. You might have the same representative, but it’s a different district number. So just be very, you know, try to be informed. Look at your sample ballot. If you have any questions, go to our website,” Phillips said. “There’s not many incumbents because the state representatives are termed out. So there are a lot of races on this ballot, a lot of new candidates who people might not be familiar with.”
So voters are encouraged to check their sample ballot.