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Early voting ends Jan. 12
Polls open Jan. 14 for Republican primary
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Pinellas County’s registered Republicans are already casting their ballots in a primary election to decide the candidate to run in the March 11 special election for the open District 13 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mark Bircher, David Jolly and Kathleen Peters are vying for the seat left open when longtime Representative C.W. Bill Young died in Oct. 18. The winner of the primary will face democrat candidate Alex Sink and Libertarian Party of Florida candidate Lucas Overby in the March 11 special general election.

Early voting continues through 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, in all Supervisor of Elections offices. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Supervisor of Elections offices are located:

• Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Road, Largo (Starkey Lakes Corporate Center)

• Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater (first floor, north side)

• County Building, 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg (entrance on 5th Street)

Voters can check early voting wait times online at www.v­otepi­nella­

As of Jan. 6, 64 Republicans had cast their ballots during the first two days of early voting. More had taken advantage of mail ballots with 31 percent, or 24,339 of 78,470 distributed returned to the Elections office.

Mail ballots cannot be returned to the polls. Voters can mail them back or drop them off at an Elections office or designated ballot drop-off location. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Jan. 14.

Remote ballot drop-off locations include:

• Three Tax Collector Offices - open weekdays, 29399 U.S. 19 N. (near Curlew), Clearwater; 1663 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater; and 1800 66th St. N., St. Petersburg

• Public libraries - open weekdays and Saturdays, 9200 113th St. N., Seminole; and 7770 52nd St., Pinellas Park

The last day to request a ballot be mailed is Wednesday, Jan. 8. Visit www.v­otepi­nella­ or call 727-464-VOTE (8383).

Ballots may also be picked up in Supervisor of Elections Offices; however, mail ballot pickup and voting in Elections Offices on Election Day is only permitted in the case of an emergency. A new state law requires that a voter or voter’s designee must sign an affidavit affirming that the voter is unable to go to his/her polling place on Election Day due to an emergency and provide the reason for the emergency. This affidavit and the information provided becomes a public record when submitted to the Supervisor of Elections.

A voter who willfully affirms falsely to any affirmation in connection with an election can be convicted of a felony of the third degree, punishable pursuant to Florida Statutes 104.011 and 104.041.

Voters may track their ballot status online at www.v­otepi­nella­ to find out the date the ballot was mailed and the date the voted ballot was received by the Supervisor of Elections.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14. For a list of precincts and polling places visit votep­inell­­m.

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