If you bank with us, you know we work hard to provide you with the tools and resources Badge - 2008 electionyou need to make informed financial decisions. You may also know we are equally committed to the communities where we all live and work which brings us to this morning’s topic.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a discussion of particular issues or some rambling about which candidate or party is better or worse. Your opinions and beliefs are yours, and it’s not the goal to change them. What we hope to do here is encourage you to exercise your right…your responsibility, really…to vote. Your vote really does matter! Sure, you only have one vote but your vote is your voice in our community, our state and our country. So it’s important to do your homework and vote in every election.

The first step is to get registered. The Florida Division of Elections has a guide that walks you step by step through the process. You can check it out here. Basically if you meet the following criteria, you can register:

  1. You are at least 18 years of age.
  2. You are a citizen of the United States.
  3. You are a legal resident of the state of Florida and of the county where you intend to vote.

There are lots of places you can register… any local Supervisor of Elections office, any office that issues driver licenses, or just download the application here. And don’t forget to pay attention to the calendar; in order to vote in a particular election, you must be registered at least 29 days prior to Election Day. So in 2014, if you want to vote in the primary on August 26th, you must be registered by July 28th. If you plan to vote in the general election on November 4th, you much be registered by October 6th.

So you get registered…then what? Well, do your homework! Do a little research on the internet or read newspaper articles about the candidates or the issues you will be voting on. Take some time to read through the political mail you receive. Look for candidate forums…communities, chambers of commerce, or neighborhood associations will often host events where you can meet the candidates and ask them specific questions about the issues that are important to you. So take the time to attend these forums and find out what each candidate stands for.

We know the homework part is not always fun, but it is very important! After all, when a person is elected to office, he or she will be making decisions that will impact you, your family, and your community. So learn all you can and vote for those candidates who you believe will represent your best interests.

Does your vote matter?  YES!  So we encourage you to register and vote in each election so your voice is heard.  And as a bonus, you will get one of those “I Voted” stickers to wear all day on Election Day!