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the release points out. To be counted, voted absentee ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Absentee ballots may not be left at an early voting site or precinct, the release adds. Because of changes in Florida election law, as of Jan. 1, a voter — with the exception of uniformed service and civilian voters living overseas — who requests a ballot be mailed to an address other than the address on file in the Florida Voter Registration System must submit a signed written request. Dent reminds voters that the signature on the absentee ballot certificate must match the voter's signature on file in the elections office to be counted, the release notes. Voters may update their signatures by submitting a Florida Voter Registration Application to the Supervisor of Elections Office. With open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace ending Monday, March 31, Sarasota County has ramped up its efforts to assist the public in getting affordable health insurance, the county has announced. Additional Certified Application Counselors have been hired to provide personal assis- tance as individuals go through the process of applying for and choosing new cover- age options in the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, a news release says. "The counselors are not affiliated with any insurance companies," it adds. "Their role is to guide and provide unbiased information to help individuals make informed choices about coverage options based on their health care needs." Because so much of the process is Internet- driven, the release notes, the counselors have been assisting anyone who requests assistance, including those who do not have access to a computer. "The counselors are gratified by the success stories," it continues. "Many involve people for whom health insurance was out of reach COUNTY OUTREACH RAMPS UP FOR HEALTH INSURANCE ENROLLMENT due to pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes. A 54-year-old woman living with diabetes and ongoing health issues had no insurance for more than a decade. She was able to enroll in a silver-level plan for just $49 per month. In early January, she was able to use her new insurance plan to get the medical care she needed," the release adds. "Although we are mostly interfacing with middle-age adults, we are also equipped to assist those under age 30 who may be wait- ing to enroll," said Shawnta Zackery, program coordinator, in the release. The counselors hope to reach younger people through upcoming health fair events at State College of Florida (SCF) and at New College of Florida, which will also reach students from the University of South Florida Sarasota- Manatee (USFSM), the release notes. This effort is the result of additional funding that Sarasota County's Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA), the release says. According to local health officials, chronic medical conditions Sarasota News Leader February 7, 2014 Page 73

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