JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This is the final week to register to vote in the August 14 primary and many voters who are already registered will see big changes to their precinct and polling place.
"That's why we're sending new voter information cards to everyone in the county to alert them that there have been changes. Redistricting has affected everyone," explained Vicky Oakes, Supervisor of Elections for St. Johns County.
Redistricting occurs every ten years after the U.S. Census. States must redraw congressional lines based on population and then counties follow suit, changing local lines as well.
Oakes said most of the changes she made were in the northern parts of the county and near St. Augustine. Northern St. Johns County has seen tremendous growth, so Oakes added precincts and polling places to help accommodate current and future growth.
To help educate the county's 150,000 voters about the changes, this week Oakes and her staff are sending new voter information cards to everyone who is registered. They include information about which precinct a voter lives in and where he or she is assigned to cast his ballot.
The county will also send out sample ballots to voters that include their precinct and polling place information. Oakes said outlining voters' choices will help them see who they will be voting for because County Commission and Board of Education voting districts have changed. This is even more critical because it is a Presidential election year. Redistricting has not coincided with a Presidential election since 1992, said Oakes.
"It's a very important year," Oakes emphasized. "We're hoping that with the extra effort we're making and the advertising that we're going to be doing that people will pay attention and that they will be alerted to the fact that, hey, there is an election going on."
Duval County is also mailing new information cards to voters as well as sample ballots. City Council districts have changed this year.
In Clay County, Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless, redrew the district lines to elimate 25 percent of the county's previous precincts. With the move, the county has gone from 64 precincts to just 48. According to the county, this will save an estimated $21,000 each election.
The deadline to register to vote in the August primary is July 16. The deadline to register to vote in the November general election is October 9.
First Coast News