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By Michele Dargan, A Civic Association Special Report.  In what many are calling the most contentious presidential election in history, the November 8 ballot pits Democrat Hillary Clinton, a career politician and the first woman at the top of the ticket, against Republican political newcomer and part-time Palm Beach resident, Donald J. Trump.

Other political races on the Palm Beach ballot: U.S. Senator, U.S. House of Representatives, Florida State Senator District 30, Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation groups 2, 3 and 4, Port of Palm Beach Group 3, County Commissioner District 1, Circuit Court Judge Group 4 and County Court Judge Group 11.

your vote countsThere also will be four constitutional amendments and one countywide question on the ballot. The constitutional amendments are numbered one, two, three and five, because number four already was passed in the August primary.

U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a former contender for the Republican presidential nomination, is being challenged for his senate seat by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D).

Mr. Rubio’s political experience includes the West Miami City Commission, the Florida House of Representatives, where he served as speaker from 2006-2008 and the U.S. Senate since 2011. His areas of concern are: strong families, jobs, energy independence, ISIS, healthcare reform and repeal of Obamacare, comprehensive immigration reform, protect Florida waters, and senior citizens.

Mr. Murphy has been the congressman for District 18 since 2013. His areas of concern are: grow the middle-class, immigration reform, protect voters’ rights, social security and Medicare, the environment, criminal justice reform, and LGBT equality.

U.S. Congress

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D) is being challenged by political newcomer Paul Spain (R) for the District 21 seat. 

Ms. Frankel, 68, is a former West Palm Beach mayor and served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives before being elected mayor. She has been serving in the U.S. Congress since 2012. Ms. Frankel’s areas of focus are: jobs and the economy, women and families, social security, veterans, education, health care, and Israel.

Mr. Spain, a financial advisor, seeks to promote economic growth and job creation, replace bureaucratic government health care with patient-driven health insurance that is affordable, implement tax reform, strengthen the school curriculum and balance the budget.

State Senate

In the newly redrawn District 30 State Senate race, State Rep. Bobby Powell (D) will face off against political newcomer Ron Berman (R).

Mr. Berman co-founded Quicken Loans and created several real estate brokerage firms in South Florida. Mr. Berman’s main focus will include education, mental health, seniors and the environment.

For the past four years, Mr. Powell has served District 88 in the Florida House, which does not include Palm Beach. He works as a project manager for Urban Design Kilday Studio. His main focus will include affordable health care, quality schools, jobs, attainable housing, the environment, and lower property taxes and insurance rates.

Other Races

The County Commission, District 1 race pits incumbent Republican Hal Valeche against Democratic challenger Tony Bennett.
In the Port of Palm Beach, Group 3 race, Sonny Maken is challenging incumbent Jean Enright.

In the race for Circuit Court Judge, Group 4, Luis Delgado and Gregory Tendrich are running to see who will replace retiring Judge Martin Colin.

For County Court Judge, Group 11, Gregg Lerman and Dana M. Santino are vying for the seat vacated by Judge Laura Johnson.
For the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation, Matthew Bymaster and Daniel Sohn are vying for the Group 2 seat; Patricia “Pat” Edmonson, Jesse Jackson and Stephen Joseph Jara are running for the Group 3 seat; and Karl Dickey, Rob Long, and Dave Self are contending for the Group 4 seat.

Florida Supreme Court. Votes will be to retain or not to retain each judge. Charles T. Canady, Jorge Labarga, Ricky L. Polston.
District Court of Appeals. Votes will be to retain or not to retain each judge. Cory J. Ciklin, Dorian K. Damoorgian, Jonathan D. Gerber, Robert Marc Gross, Spencer D. Levine, Melanie G. May.

2016 General ElectionConstitutional Amendments – All must receive a “yes” by 60 percent of the voters to pass.

Amendment 1 - Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice. If approved, this amendment supports adding a section in the state constitution giving residents the right to own or lease solar energy equipment for personal use. It also would allow state and local governments to prevent people who do not choose to produce solar energy from being required to subsidize the production of solar energy.

Supporters say it would protect the rights of Florida residents to own solar equipment, while also protecting electricity consumers from unfair prices. Opponents say this amendment is backed by big utility companies to protect their control over the energy market.

Amendment 2 - Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions. If approved, this would legalize marijuana use for treatment of patients who have been diagnosed with at least one of the 10 specific diseases approved for its use. The diseases are: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. A similar initiative failed to receive 60 percent of the vote in 2014.

Amendment 3 - Tax Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled First Responders. If approved, this would create a new property tax exemption for first responders who are totally and permanently disabled as a result of an injury sustained in the line of duty.

Amendment 5 - Homestead tax exemption for certain senior, low-income, long-term residents; determination of just value. If approved, this would provide a tax break for homes valued at less than $250,000 owned by individuals over the age of 65 who have lived in the home for at least 25 years. Seniors, who are approved for the tax break, would be able to keep their tax exemption even if their home value exceeded $250,000 in the future.

Countywide Question – Palm Beach County district schools, cities and county government infrastructure one-cent sales surtax. If approved, this would raise the county’s sales tax from 6 to 7 percent for up to 10 years. The increased revenue would be split among the school district, the county and the cities/towns to replace and repair equipment, supplies, and decaying infrastructure.  

Civic Association Members will be receiving a Voter’s Guide in the mail.  Join the Civic Association to receive a copy.

Candidates Meet & Greet
The Palm Beach Civic Association and the Citizen’s Association of Palm Beach will host a “Meet Your Candidates” night from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 24 at Nick and Johnnie’s, 207 Royal Poinciana Way. All candidates highlighted above are invited and over a dozen have confirmed they will attend.  The forum will feature speakers on both sides of the sales tax ballot question. The event is free of charge. For reservations, call 561-655-0820.

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Fast Facts on the 2016 General Election in Palm Beach
By Michele Dargan, Special to the Civic Association

Register to Vote

A federal judge Wednesday extended the original voter registration deadline from October 11 until October 18, due to Hurricane Matthew.

Visit the Supervisor of Elections website or stop by the elections office to fill out an application form.
If you are a new Florida voter, you will need to provide your Florida driver’s license number or Florida identification card number to register.

Early Voting

Registered voters may vote early from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, October 24 through Sunday, November 6.

The closest early voting locations to Palm Beach are the supervisor of elections office, 240 South Military Trail, West Palm Beach; the West Palm Beach Police Community Room, 600 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach and the Lantana Branch Library, 4020 Lantana Road, Lantana.

Whether you vote during early voting or on Election Day, you will be asked to provide a valid photo ID with signature at the polls.

If your photo ID does not include your signature, you will be asked to provide another ID that has your signature.

If you do not bring proper ID, you can still vote a provisional ballot. As long as you are eligible and voted in the proper precinct, your provisional ballot will count provided the signature on your provisional ballot matches the signature in your registration record.

Vote-by-Mail (formerly Absentee Ballot)

As of July 1, 2016, the term “Absentee Ballot” has changed to “Vote-by-Mail Ballot.”

Vote-by-mail refers to voting a ballot received by mail or picked up by or for a voter who is unable or unwilling to go to the polls during early voting or Election Day. A request covers all elections through the end of the calendar year for the second ensuing regularly scheduled general election.

A request for a vote-by-mail ballot must be made to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections either through an online application, in writing via email, fax or mail or by phone.

The following information is required for a vote-by-mail ballot: the name of the voter for whom the ballot is being requested, the voter’s address, date of birth and signature, if the request is written.

If an immediate family member or legal guardian is requesting a vote-by-mail ballot for you, the following additional information must be provided: the requestor’s address, the requestor’s driver’s license number (if available), the requestor’s relationship to the voter and the requestor’s signature (if the request is written).

The deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed is no later than 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before the election. Otherwise, a vote-by-mail ballot can be picked-up until and including on Election Day. However, the ballot must be received by the Supervisor of Elections office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day if the voted ballot is to count.

For more information on vote-by-mail ballots, visit Florida Division of Elections (Vote by Mail) or Palm Beach County Supervisor of

Elections (Vote by Mail)

General Election Day Voting, Tuesday, November 8

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Palm Beach Polling Locations:

Precincts 1390 and 1392 vote at St. Edward Catholic Church, 165 N. County Road.

Precincts 1394 and 7154 vote at the Central Fire Station, 355 S. County Road

Precincts 7156, 7158 and 7166 vote at the South Fire Station, 2185 S. Ocean Boulevard.