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Sarasota's League of Women Voters plans a busy information campaign in 2024

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Community News Collaborative
Shawn Bartelt reminds voters in Sarasota County that School Board races will likely be decided in the August primary round of voting, not the general election in November.

Issue discussions and candidate forums are coming together for the election season.

The Sarasota County League of Women Voters promises a robust election-year calendar, with a range of
in-person events and candidate forums in 2024.

"We're doing a lot more in-person events rather than Zoom events," said League President Shawn Bartelt. "We're planning to have even more events educating voters about what's happening in our communities."

While the schedule is still being finalized, Bartelt said plans already include informational forums on topics of interest on the Suncoast. "It's about the local elections going into 2024," she said. "Just making sure voters are aware that they know everything about the candidates who are running, and what their positions are on different things, so that they can cast an educated vote."

By the numbers:

  • March 19, 2024 – Presidential Preference Primary Election (Voter registration deadline: Feb. 20. Deadline to request a vote-by-ballot be mailed: 7 p.m. March 7.)
  • Aug. 20, 2024 – Primary Election (Registration deadline: July 22)
  • Nov. 5, 2024 – General Election (Registration deadline: Oct. 7)

Several events are already on the books. At 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at Gulf Gate Library, Lourdes Ramirez, who is fighting to keep large hotels from being built on Siesta Key, will speak about challenging local government and how citizens can prepare to protect their neighborhoods.

Other events on the League calendar include:

Feb. 21, 5-6 p.m. online. A discussion of the national popular vote movement, with Daniel Leshansky, of Floridians for National Popular Vote. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ZOOM registration link:
Feb. 28, 1:30 p.m. at Shannon Staub North Port Library. Access to Voting for people who are homeless and/or disabled.

Candidate forums will be announced later this year, after filing deadlines.

The League is also reminding citizens who wish to vote by mail in 2024 they must submit a request to their Supervisor of Elections office for a mail-in ballot. Voters now must submit a request every two-year election cycle.

The first opportunity to vote in 2024 will be the presidential preference primary on March 19, open to voters registered as party members. The voter registration deadline for the presidential preference primary is Feb. 20. Early voting begins Saturday, March 9. Florida is in the ninth block of presidential primaries, behind a slate that includes 15 states on March 5.

Vote By Mail

Vote-by-mail ballot requests are valid for all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election. Vote-by-mail requests made before Nov. 8, 2022, have expired. For more information. visit the Supervisor of Elections office websiteor the League of Women Voters website.

The state and local primary election is set for Tuesday, Aug. 20. The deadline to register is Monday, July 22.

The general election, where voters will select the next president, as well as cast ballots in host of local and state races, is Tuesday, Nov. 5. The deadline for registering to vote in the general election is Monday, Oct. 7.

The League is cautioning voters not to skip the Aug. 20 primary, because some nonpartisan local races — including the Sarasota County School Board — will be decided then.

In a nonpartisan race, all registered voters, even those not affiliated as Republican or Democrat, can cast their vote either in person or by mail. According to figures provided by the county Supervisor of Elections office, 26% of all registered voters in Sarasota County lists themselves as "other."

"I think a lot of voters feel you'll have the opportunity again to vote in the November election for the final two candidates," said Bartelt. "What they don't realize is that the August primary is the final election for the Sarasota County School Board. It would only go to November if there's a runoff, because there's multiple candidates."

Jim DeLa is a reporter for the Community News Collaborative. Reach him at jdela@cncfl.org