Q&A with St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes

Q: It’s currently not election time. What does your office do when it is not an active election cycle?

A: This time of year, we do a number of voter education programs. For instance, I and my staff go to all the area high schools and local colleges. Students in high school can pre-register to vote at age 16, and then when they turn 18, we send them their voter identification card and a sample ballot if it is near election time.

For high schools that request it, my office will conduct their student government elections onsite for them.

We also recently led a civics program for all seventh graders at Switzerland Point Middle School. This took two full days.

Q: What other programs do you offer to schools?
A: Through April 11, we will visit 23 of 31 elementary and K – 8 schools, conducting their Sunshine State Young Readers program. This program is promoted by the school’s media specialist and is designed to encourage students to read. Basically, students who read three of the 15 Sunshine State Young Readers Award books for their grade level are eligible to vote on their favorite. We set up the media center at the school as a polling place. We bring our precinct tabulator and voting booths, and, most importantly, the “I Voted” stickers. We typically visit two schools per day performing this service.

We also have a special program for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. With our ExpressVote, blind students can vote. We give a workshop about the importance of voting and how easy it is to vote, and then we prepare a mock ballot for them that contains questions from the workshop as well as fun questions like choosing their favorite movie or video game. Then we tabulate the results.

Q: What other responsibilities keep you busy this time of year?
A: There are voter registrations every day and address changes every day. We have voter list maintenance activities and my office is open 24/7 online. When interest piques in 2020 as an election year, we will have more community voter registration events. Did you know that we will have three elections next year? (Presidential Preference in March, the Primary in August and then the General Election in November) So planning has already begun for them as well. Additionally, I take every opportunity year ‘round to educate voters and future voters in St. Johns County.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

A: Readers can email me at voakes@votesjc.com or call me at (904) 823-2238. Our website, www.votesjc.com also has a wealth of information.