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Monday is deadline for changing political parties or registering to vote

Monday is deadline for changing political parties or registering to vote

For the first time in recent memory, there are two Republicans on the ballot for Jackson County commissioner in a primary election. There are also three Democrats on the ballot as well for District 4 county commission; the three remaining candidates are all “NPAs” or No Party Affiliation so their names, Andrew Bowden, William Nelson and Wesley Kutchey, will appear only on the November 4 General Election ballots. The voter must be registered as either a Democrat or Republican to vote in that race and the others, but it is not too late to change registration. The person changing registration to vote in the Primary may change it back to either Republican or Democrat, or another party, after the primary election is held. The deadline to change registration is the same as the deadline to register to vote in the primary—Monday July 28 no later than 5 p.m. at the Supervisor of Elections office in Marianna, or by mail with a postmark of no later than July 28. Candidates Eric Hill and Thomas N. Lipford are the Republicans. Candidates Alvin Roberts, Ricky Robinson and Judy Carter Williams are the Democrats. All are seeking the District 4 Jackson County Commission seat being vacated by Commissioner Jeremy Branch, who withdrew from the race instead of seeking his third term. This process is the same in advance of the Nov. 4 General Election. The deadline to register or change party for that election is Monday, October 6.

Since the law was changed more than a decade ago, there are no “second primaries” or “runoffs” in the event of there being three names on the ballot and the highest vote-getter receiving less than a 50 percent plus one majority. The Democrat or Republican candidate that gets the most votes, period, on August 26 will win the primary, no matter how many names are on the ballot. However, a runoff in effect is still possible in the local Jackson County races, and all counties in the 14th Judicial Circuit: In the non-partisan races (circuit judge and school board this year) the 50 percent plus one rule still applies, according to the Jackson County Supervisor of Elections office on Tuesday. Group 10 Incumbent Circuit Judge Jim Fensom and candidates Shalene Grover and Gerard M. Virga Jr. will all be on the ballot in the Primary August 26, but if one fails to receive 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast, the top two who received the most votes will have to run again, but in the General Election itself on November 4; there will be no special election.

The Jackson County primary will also include the races for county commission District 2 (Democrats Edward Crutchfield, incumbent vs. Howard J. Glass), school board District 4 non-partisan candidates Chris Johnson, incumbent vs. Quitman Varn; school board District 1 candidates A. Dale Gammons vs. Terry Nichols, incumbent; and school board district 5 candidates Charlotte Gardner, incumbent vs. Cheryl Guy. Those school board races will be decided in the primary. But either Crutchfield or Glass will appear again in the General Election to face Republican challenger Clint Pate. The District 4 county commission race, as well, will go to the General Election with the Primary winners facing the NPA candidates.

Early Voting

In 2004, Florida established early voting schedules for primaries and general elections. For the Primary this year, Early Voting takes place from Saturday, August 16, to Saturday, August 23, including that Sunday. According to the Elections Supervisor’s office, “A Jackson County registered voter may vote early at any one of the following early Voting locations: The Elections Supervisor’s office in Marianna, Graceville City Hall or Sneads City Hall.” The hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the two Saturdays and Monday through Friday--and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Mail balloting

It’s not called absentee voting anymore, since being out of town on Election Day is not a requirement. But voters must still pick up a mail ballot at the elections supervisor’s office by August 25, the day before the Primary and that ballot must be turned in by Election Day, August 26. A request to receive a ballot for mail balloting through the mail must be made by August 20, the office said Tuesday, and the ballot must be received by 7 p.m. the night of the primary election (no postmark exception here). 

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