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St. Pete City Council backs expanded vote-by-mail efforts, pre-paid postage

Megan Holmes



This week, St. Petersburg City Council backed efforts by the newly appointed Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, Julie Marcus, to expand vote-by-mail efforts and offer pre-paid postage to all voters.

Council also agreed to invite Marcus to speak regarding creating a contingency plan for holding an election during a pandemic, and considerations involved in expanding early voting access.

The Pinellas Board of County Commissioners is expected to float aid to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections to begin the process of expanding vote-by-mail and to ensure that all ballots are sent with pre-paid postage for their return. Those funds are likely to be reimbursed through federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to Council Member Darden Rice, who brought both measure forward to Council, the move to providing pre-paid postage for all vote-by-mail ballots is likely to be standard policy for Pinellas County going forward.

The resolutions passed without much fanfare, aside from Council member Robert Blackmon expressing concerns about politicization of the voting process. “We do already have the largest participation in the state for a large county for vote-by-mail,” Blackmon said. “We are a state that allows vote-by-mail with no excuse or reason for it … I just don’t want to get too polarizing.”

“It’s hard to do or say anything innocuous these days without being polarized,” Rice responded. “This couldn’t be a friendlier resolution if I tried. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections deserve nothing but recognition and appreciation for the exemplary job they do, especially with vote-by-mail.”

Rice went on to explain that the resolution was intended to get the word out about vote by mail, particularly in the current national context, when vote-by-mail is such an important topic, particularly in states like Wisconsin, which continued with its election through COVID-19.

“I think the more people out there with skin in the game, that are voting, that are participants in our democracy, and being good, engaged citizens, I just think this is a win-win,” Rice said.




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  1. Avatar

    Darden Rice

    May 24, 2020at9:19 am

    Brenda, no worries. You can still certainly vote at your precinct. Expanding ‘Vote By Mail’ is an efficient and reliable option that we want to offer as another option to vote. Not the ONLY way. Given concerns about Covid-19, it makes sense to promote Vote By Mail for those who want to avoid possible lines or crowds on Election Day. WE’ve been assured the SOE has plans to allow people to distance themselves at the voting booth, also.

    Also– I said, “This couldn’t be a friendlier resolution if I tried.”

    • Megan Holmes

      Megan Holmes

      May 26, 2020at9:02 am

      Hi Darden,

      I’m so sorry, that was an error in my transcription. I absolutely meant to write “friendlier” and I apologize that the small error changed the meaning of the sentence so much. I have updated the quoted.

      • Avatar

        Darden Rice

        May 26, 2020at8:04 pm

        Thank you, Megan!

  2. Avatar

    Denise Yettaw

    May 24, 2020at8:18 am

    This isn’t a substitute for voting in person. It is an alternative. This is wonderful news and I hope this is able to happen.

  3. Avatar

    Brenda Hart

    May 22, 2020at5:03 pm

    Please don’t encourage vote by mail. I am the prime target for Covid and I came to the Coliseum to vote at the beginning of this virus. Make sure we can vote in person. It’s our God given right.

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