Deadline nears for voter registration

Voter registration form

Residents of Gainesville who need to register to vote have until Oct. 18 to confirm their information with the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office before the Nov. 16 special election for the city at-large commission seat.

Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton said citizens of Gainesville should check to make sure they are registered and that the registration is correct. Sometimes citizens think they’re registered when they aren’t.

“It’s always good for citizens to double check their status,” Barton said in a phone interview.

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Alachua County residents can check online at the supervisor of elections website, and change their address and other information. Residents can also apply to register or update their information by stopping at an official location, like any county library, or via mail.

Barton noted that any citizen who wants to change their address over the phone or email needs either their driver’s license, Florida ID or Social Security number now that Florida Senate Bill 90 went into effect in May.

She also said residents should check their applications and ensure everything is signed and filled out.

Vote by mail ballots will be arriving this week, and Gainesville voters who want to apply to vote by mail must do so by Nov. 6 at 5 p.m.

Barton said she hopes the special election will get people into the voting booths because local elections matter.

The winner of the special election will fill former Gainesville Commissioner Gail Johnson’s seat. Johnson announced her resignation from the commission on Aug. 23 and attended her last commission meeting in September.

At the last Gainesville election in March, Johnson won her seat for the second time with 88.3 percent of the vote. Only 9,549 votes were cast out of 90,794 registered voters.

Johnson cited problems within the city’s staff as a reason for her departure, naming City Manager Lee Feldman particularly.

At her last meeting, she reiterated to the commission a lack of trust in Feldman.

Feldman announced his own resignation on Sept. 13, and both the city attorney and city clerk also submitted resignations, though City Clerk Omichele Gainey has since decided to stay.

For the special election, five Gainesville residents will appear on the ballot.

Cynthia Chestnut, a former mayor, city commissioner, county commissioner and state representative, and Scherwin Henry, a former two-term city commissioner, are among the candidates running.

Joining them are nonprofit organizer and former public school teacher Matt Howland, retiree and Uber/Lyft driver Patrick O. Ingle, and former attorney and regular candidate for office Gabe H. Kaimowitz (who is also known as Gabriel Hillel).

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