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Speculation Ends on Early Voting in Apopka


The intrigue of Early Voting in an Apopka Precinct is over, and because of rules established before Election Day it won't be happening.

Speculation of an Apopka venue surfaced this weekend when Orange County Election Supervisor Bill Cowles spoke to Mayor Kilsheimer with the idea of providing county staff to conduct early voting in Apopka.

“Because of the issues on (the March 15th) Election Day, I wanted to make a gesture to the Apopka voters for early voting for the runoff election,” Cowles explained. “The Supervisor of Elections Office would staff and run an early voting site in Apopka at no charge to the City. But the Mayor pointed out he can’t go back and change the rules. It would take the City Council to amend the early voting rules in the proclamation.”

The early voting idea seemed to have died on Monday.

But on Tuesday City Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith contacted County Commissioner Bryan Nelson and asked if there was an Orange County location in close proximity to Apopka that might be available. It was Nelson’s impression that the primary reason early voting could not be held in Apopka was due to no suitable location being available, this based on his conversation with Cowles.

Arrowsmith is in one of the two runoff elections and faces Kyle Becker in the race for Seat #4.

Later on Tuesday Nelson said he had secured the use of the John Bridges Center (in South Apopka) for the April 4th-8th early voting dates.

But by Wednesday afternoon, the notion had died again when the City of Apopka posted this statement:

"The City of Apopka will hold a runoff election for two City Council seats from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Tuesday, April 12, as designated by City Code. Voting will be held at the Apopka Community Center, located at 519 S. Central Avenue in Apopka. Early voting will be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., April 4-8 at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office at 119 W. Kaley St. in Orlando.

The City of Apopka established these dates, times and locations last year, through City Ordinance 2436 and a Mayor’s Proclamation on Dec. 2, 2015. This same method of early voting has been used in Apopka for all recent past elections.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles – who is contracted to run the upcoming election runoff - recently offered to have early voting within the City of Apopka. However any change in city election procedures typically would require approval from the City Council, and there is not enough time to accomplish that and still comply with the law.

Florida Statute 101.657 requires that if a municipality provides for early voting, then the municipality or elections supervisor must designate early voting sites no later than the 30th day prior to the date of the election. The location of early voting sites must also be provided to the Florida Division of Elections no later than the 30th day before the election takes place.

City of Apopka code Sec. 34-36 (c) also establishes that procedures for early voting – and, in this case, changes to those procedures – must be established by resolution “not less than 60 days prior to the city general election,” which was held on March 15.

Therefore, the option to change early voting sites and procedures for this runoff election is not available to the city due to the time requirements of both state and local laws.

The City of Apopka encourages all residents to exercise their right to vote in the April 12 runoff election. Early and absentee voting is available through the Orange County Supervisor of Elections."

According to Cindy Clark, the notion of a local early voting precinct would have been nearly unprecedented.

“One time over 10 years ago, Apopka conducted early voting for a runoff at City Hall,” said Clark, the Senior Deputy in the Elections Department. “But not since then. No one has had early voting in its city since then. Not any of the 11 Municipalities in Orange County.”

Apopka City Commission Elections, Early Voting


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