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Early voting begins Aug. 16
More than 21 percent of mail ballots already returned
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Early voting for the Aug. 26 primary election begins Saturday, Aug. 16, and continues through Sunday, Aug. 24.

Registered voters can cast their ballots in any of the three Pinellas County Elections offices. The offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Early voting locations include Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Road., Largo (Starkey Lakes Corporate Center); Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater (first floor, north side); and County Building, 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg (entrance on Fifth Street).

Voters can check early voting wait times at www.v­otepi­nella­s.com. Color codes represent wait times at each early voting location as follows: Green indicates a wait time less than 20 minutes; yellow, 20 to 40 minutes; and red, more than 40 minutes.

On the ballots

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark mailed sample ballots Aug. 11 to approximately 250,000 households with registered voters.

“Voters can preview the races and mark their choices right on the sample ballot,” Clark said in a press release. “Then, voters can bring the sample ballot with them on Election Day.”

Registered Republicans will vote for their favorite candidate to run for governor in the Nov. 4 general election. They have a choice between incumbent Rick Scott and challengers Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder.

In the race for state senator District 20, Republicans will decide between the incumbent Jack Latvala and Zahid Roy. In the races for state representative, registered Republicans can choose between Debbie Faulkner and Chris Sprowls for District 65 and Chris Latvala and Christopher Shepard in District 67; and Joshua Black and Bill Young in District 68.

District 64 also is on the Republican primary ballot; however, a Circuit Judge in Leon County disqualified the write-in candidate in that race. Votes cast during the Aug. 26 primary will not be counted. James Grant and Miriam Steinberg will vie for the District 64 seat during the universal primary Nov. 4.

Closer to home, Republicans will vote for their choice in the race for county Commissioner District 2 – at large. Registered Republicans countywide can pick between incumbent Norm Roche and former state representative Ed Hooper. Seven names are on the ballot for the District 4 single member seat, currently held by Susan Latvala. The candidates are Dave Eggers, Johnny Johnson, Tim Keffalas, Wanda Kimsey, Macho Liberti, Peter Nehr and Jim Ronecker. Only voters in District 4 are eligible to take part in the election.

Registered Democrats will choose between former governor Charlie Crist and Nan H. Rich for their candidate to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. Democrats also will pick between George Sheldon and Perry E. Thurston to run for attorney general. The final choice in the Democratic primary is for a candidate in the District 67 race for state representative. Voters can pick between Thomas D. Ryan, Steve Sarnoff and Shawna Vercher.

Republicans and Democrats that live in the county’s District 6 will be able to vote in the Aug. 26 universal primary. Tom Rask is challenging incumbent John Morroni. Both are Republicans. No other candidates qualified for the race. The winner of the universal primary will decide the election. The race will not appear on the November ballot.

All registered voters can make choices in elections for Sixth Circuit judge positions and school board seats.

Laura Snell and Susan St. John are running for circuit judge, Group 1 and Ken Lark, Alicia Polk and Alan Scott Rosenthal are vying for circuit judge Group 2. Brian Battaglia and Kimberly “Kim Sharpe” are running for circuit judge, Group 16; Amanda Colon and Phil Matthey for Group 21; and Bruce Boyer and Jon Newlon for Group 35.

In the race for school board, District 2 at-large position, all voters can pick between incumbent Terry B. Krassner and Chris Tauchnitz, and Ken Curtis and incumbent Peggy O’Shea for the District 3 seat.

In the two single-member school board races, only those living within the district will vote. Beverley Billiris, John H. Nygren and Ken Peluso are running for the District 4 seat, and Maureen Ahern and incumbent Linda Lerner are running for the District 6 position.

The candidate receiving the majority of votes, more than 50 percent, will win. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the two with the most votes will compete in a runoff during the Nov. 4 general election.

All registered voters also can vote yes or no on a referendum question concerning a proposed countywide tax exemption for qualified businesses.

For more information about the candidates or referendum, visit the Pinellas County section at www.T­BNwee­kly.c­om.

Mail ballots

Voters can vote at the polls on Election Day, take advantage of early voting or vote by mail. As of Aug. 12, the Supervisor of Elections Office had distributed 249,415 mail ballots and 21 percent had been returned. According to statistics from the Elections Office, there are 618,860 registered voters in Pinellas.

The two major political parties were tied with 42 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats returning ballots. The remaining ballots came from those registered as something other than one of the two major political parties. There are 219,747 registered Republicans in Pinellas, 224,018 Democrats and 175,093 other.

Mail ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. Election Day, Aug. 26. Per state law, mail ballots cannot be returned to a polling location. They can be returned by mail or they can be dropped off at any Elections Office.

Remote drop-off locations are available throughout the county, including five Tax Collector Offices - open weekdays, August 11-25: 743 Pinellas Ave. S., Tarpon Springs; 29399 U.S. Hwy. 19 N. (near Curlew); Clearwater; 1663 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater; 1800 66th St. N., St. Petersburg; and 1067 62nd Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

Five public libraries are accepting ballots, on weekdays and Saturdays, August 11-25, including libraries at 4125 East Lake Road., Palm Harbor; 400 St. Petersburg Drive E., Oldsmar; 9200 113th St. N., Seminole; 7770 52nd St., Pinellas Park; and 1059 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

Ballots also can be dropped off at Centre of Palm Harbor, 1500 16th St., Palm Harbor, which is open weekdays and Saturdays, and Gulfport Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th St. S., Gulfport, which is open weekdays.

Drop-off locations will not be open on Election Day.

Election employees are stationed with secure ballot boxes inside each drop-off location to assist and hand out “I Voted” stickers.

Information is included in the mail ballot kits and is available online at www.v­otepi­nella­s.com by selecting Mail Ballots\Drop-off Locations in the left menu.

Registered voters can request that a ballot be mailed to them through 5 p.m. Aug. 20. Requests can be made online at www.v­otepi­nella­s.com or call 464-VOTE (8683).

Ballots may also be picked up at an Elections Office. Mail ballot pickup and voting in Elections Offices on Election Day is only permitted in the case of an emergency. State law requires that a voter or voter’s designee 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.

Revised to clarify that all ballot drop-off locations will be closed on Election Day.

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