St. Pete leaders spar over early voting location

- Controversy continues between community leaders in St. Petersburg over the location of early voting centers.

It stems from a push by Mayor Rick Kriseman and African American community leaders for an early voting location at Lake Vista Recreation Center. The location is in the middle of the south side minority neighborhood, an area that usually votes democrat, and where voter turnout is historically low.

But Pinellas County Supervisor of  Elections, Deborah Clark, who is republican, says there is no need for another early voting site in the county.  She says there are already five locations throughout the county, and 41-percent of registered voters use mail-in ballots, anyway.

“I think the voting plan we have in place does provide easy access for all of the voters in Pinellas County,” Clark said.

Takira Black, has lived in South St. Petersburg all her life and votes early in every election. She thinks the extra polling location would help. 

“It would help us out on the south side,” Black said. “For those that are unable to go downtown to vote.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, along with the other community leaders who are pushing for this polling station, are democrats, and minority voter turnout could be a deciding factor in the upcoming presidential election.

“I’m not sure why she’s digging her heels in as hard as she [Clark] is,” Kriseman said. “I’m not going to put a partisan spin on this. I’m a believer, like my mom said, you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain.”

There will be a mail-in ballot drop off location at the Lake Vista Recreation Center. Early voting at the set location begins Monday, October 24.

To request a mail-in ballot in Pinellas County, visit

For a list of early voting locations in Pinellas County, visit

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