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Supervisor prepares for the main event

Tuesday's election will be the first overseen by Annie Williams, the county's supervisor of elections. But it's a process she knows well.

By JOY DAVIS-PLATT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 3, 2002

When voters cast their ballots in Tuesday's election, not many will consider the work that has gone into the process beforehand.

But for Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams, that story is a familiar one.

Though it is her first general election in the supervisor's hot seat, Williams has worked in the elections office since before she was old enough to vote.

"It's just that someone else was in the director's spot, but this time it all stops with me," said Williams, who began working in the office as a clerk at age 17.

Now 46, Williams' telephone rings almost constantly as the clock ticks down to Election Day, when the county's 100,554 registered voters will have a chance to make their voices heard.

"You always know that if one thing goes wrong, you'll hear about it," Williams said. "My staff has been great. They've bent over backward to keep anything from happening."

After Florida's voting debacle in 2000 drew national attention, there is increased pressure for this year's election to run smoothly, Williams said.

Her staff of eight full-time and five temporary employees has been busy in recent weeks, mailing more than 9,000 absentee ballots and handing out ballots to the more than 1,200 people who have come to the elections offices to vote early. On election morning, nearly 600 poll workers will staff the county's 53 polling places.

Because gubernatorial elections historically have lower participation than presidential races, Williams predicts a turnout of about 60 percent on Tuesday. Thanks to the county's optical scanner voting system, which was in place two years ago, she expects all votes to be counted by 9 p.m.

Once the tally is final, the results will be posted on the elections office's Web site:

In recent weeks, the elections staff has mailed a sample ballot to every home in Hernando County. In the ballot, each congressional, state and local race and each proposed constitutional amendment is listed, as well as polling places and a voter checklist.

"We suggest people bring their sample ballot to the poll with them," Williams said. "It certainly shortens their time and makes things easier."

Sample ballots are available in the atrium of the county government center in downtown Brooksville, at public libraries and in county elections offices in Brooksville and Spring Hill.

All voters must present photo and signature identification. A Florida driver's license fulfills the requirement; so will a Florida ID card or a wholesale buying club card with picture and signature.

For anyone who has requested an absentee ballot, all ballots must be returned to the Spring Hill elections office by 4 p.m. Tuesday or to the Brooksville office by 7 p.m.

Voting is available at both elections offices during business hours Monday and Tuesday.

The Brooksville office is in Room 165 of the county government center, 20 N Main St. The Spring Hill office is in the Westside Government Center, 7493 Forest Oaks Blvd.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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