Absentee Ballots Going Out In Pinellas

Election Day in St. Petersburg may be still five weeks away, but the campaigns for mayor and three City Council seats are intensifying, with the Supervisor of Elections office on Tuesday mailing out more than 62,000 ballots to early voters.

Absentee voters have become a crucial group in recent elections. In the 2009 mayoral election, more than 20,000 votes were cast by mail – roughly 3,700 more than were cast at the polls.

With ballots arriving in mailboxes as soon as Wednesday, that effectively means every day is like Election Day, with campaign managers launching get-out-the-vote efforts, including targeted mailings, phone calls and door-to-door canvassing.

“A third of the election will be over within two weeks,” said Nick Janovsky, campaign manager for District 4 City Council candidate Darden Rice. “If your campaign doesn’t have the money and a strategic plan with canvassing in the field and phone banks to communicate with voters, you will lose an election.”

In addition to the mayoral and City Council races, the Aug. 27 ballot includes a referendum on whether the city should scrap its controversial new pier project known as the Lens.