EARLY VOTING - Mitch Perry


INTRO: Although Florida's Presidential Primary Election isn't until March 9th,

Registered voters in Hillsborough County CAN vote - right now.

That's because the County is once again bringing back Early Voting in Hillsborough County, but this time at more locations than ever before.

In fact, every day leading up to the Primary, there will be a total of 6 locations where citizens registered can vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary....Speaking from one of those sites today - the College Hill Library in East Tampa, , Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson said the reason for expanding early voting is about convenience.(roll tape#1 o.q."be in fact, accessible")

In addition to the College Hill Library branch in East Tampa, the other local libraries where registered Hillsborough Democratic voters can vote right now include The Westgate Regional Library on Paula Drive, the Riverview Branch Library in Riverview, and for those in Northern Hillsborough, the Jimmie B. Keel Library on West Bearrs Avenue.

And as in 2002 - the main Supervisors office downtown on Kennedy and the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center on Falkenberg Road near Brandon are also open Monday thru Thurday 11 am to 7PM, 10 to 6 on Friday and 9 to 5 on Saturday.

Johnson was joined at the College Hill Library by various local members of the East Tampa Community......Including Tampa Housing Authority Board Member Gerald White, who perhaps in his exuberance in promoting early voting, parroted a line used by comics who poked fun at illicit vote gathering in Chicago (roll tape#2 o.q."dream, if you will")

Annette Jenkins is President of Belmont Heights Little League.(roll tape#3 o.q."be in vain")

Betty Reed from the Hillsborough Branch of the NAACP said it was significant that early voting was being done at a Library named after the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (roll tape#3 o.q."during this primary")

One of the biggest controversies of the 2000 Election in Florida was the dis-enfranchisement of tens of thousands of eligible Florida voters, who were incorrectly listed as felons on a list provided to the State. The scrubbing of these voters off the rolls - many of them African-American, was an issue that many people believe allowed George W. Bush to win Florida.

The Sunshine State is one of only nine states that deny the right to vote to all convicted felons who have served their time. Felons can have their rights restored by appealing to the governor and Cabinet, which often can be a lengthy process.

Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson says that as of now- only 16 people are on his rolls as being un-eligible to vote because of their ex- felon status. (roll tape#5 o.q."very pleased with that")

OUTRO: The only issue on the Ballot is for the Democratic Presidential Primary - but the ballot is NOT completely up to date......Voters can, if they choose, opt to vote for Howard Dean, Wesley Clark or Carol Mosely Braun, who all have dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for President.

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