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

Q: What can you tell us about your office’s new website?

A: Our new website is now online. We just refreshed it with a new look and I invite people to take a look. It has a more modern format that will allow us to focus on voter registration online and allow voters to keep their information up to date with us at all times. There is an announcement page highlighting timely items on the landing page. 

Q: Where on your website can citizens stay up to date on the latest candidates in upcoming elections?
A: A good place to visit regularly is our Candidate Information section. There is a list of all offices up for election in the current cycle as well as filed and qualified candidates. This is updated in real time. When the candidates come into our office to file their papers, we put them into our system and they immediately show up on the website.

Q: What offices are up for election in 2020?
A: Next year is a busy year with three elections: the Presidential Preference Election in March, followed by the Primary Election in August and the General Election in November. Of interest to northern St. Johns County voters, Districts 1, 3, and 5 of the Board of County Commissioners are up for election as well as Districts 2 and 5 of the School Board. All five constitutional offices (Sheriff, Tax Collector, Clerk of Courts, Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections) are also up for election.

Q: Last month, we discussed the work your office was having to do to comply with the governor’s policy decision that all ballots and elections materials be bilingual in the state of Florida. Do you have any updates on that?
A: The cost to convert my office to bilingual will be $100,000. Under the judicial order, I have the option to provide separate ballots in English and Spanish, or one bilingual ballot. Both will be costly, especially for the General Election, which will contain Constitutional Amendments that will need to be in two languages. I haven’t decided between the two options yet, but would like to hear voters’ thoughts. I’m trying to keep my focus on what’s best for voters.

Q: You submitted your budget for 2019 – 2020 to the Board of County Commissioners in May and presented to them in person on June 18. Can you let us know an overview?
A: My budget this year represents approximately a 23 percent increase. There are four main reasons for this. First, next year is a presidential election year and contains one extra election (the March Presidential Preference). Secondly, the transition of all items of my office to include Spanish represents about 10 percent of the increase. Many of my expenses, to include advertising, are doubling, as I am now required to have everything in two languages. Third, cybersecurity is adding some costs and finally, the growth in St. Johns County requires my costs to increase. My total budget as presented to the Board of County Commissioners is about $2.5 million. The entire budget with all the details is available on my office’s website, www.votesjc.com.

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.