Supervisor of Elections taking measures to keep voters and poll workers safe from coronavirus

Pinellas County’s registered voters have until 7 p.m. March 17 to make their choices known in the 2020 presidential preference primary. In addition, voters from 12 municipalities are picking their future leaders and some are being asked to approve charter amendments.

Election Day is Tuesday, March 17. Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Florida is a closed primary state, so only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary and only registered Democrats can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary.

As of March 12, 120,788 ballots had been accounted for at a Supervisor of Elections office, including 116,749 mail ballots and 4,039 ballots cast during in early voting.

Early voting continues through Sunday, March 15, at all three Elections offices from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

It is past the deadline to have a mail ballot be sent to you; however, mail ballots can still be picked up at an Elections office through 5 p.m. Monday, March 16. Mail ballot pickup and voting in Elections offices on Election Day is only permitted in the case of an emergency.

All mail ballots must be returned to an elections office by 7 p.m. March 17.

For more information, including election offices, mail ballot drop off locations and poll locations, visit votepinellas.com or call 727-464-VOTE (8683).

Coronavirus impact

The Supervisor of Elections is working to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers and has taken actions to enhance sanitation protocols. Early voting locations and Election Day polling places will have hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes for the public to use. Staff will be using sanitizing wipes on countertops, pens and other surfaces.

Supplies are limited however, and voters and poll workers are asked to bring their own if possible and to take whatever preventative actions they believe are necessary to protect their safety.

A decision was made March 11 to move eight polling places from assisted living facilities in response to the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Elections staff was reaching out to all voters that would normally use those polling places by mail, phone calls and emails. Election staff will be posted at the polling places on Election Day, March 17, to redirect people to their new polling place.

The polling places that have changed include:

• Precinct 102, formerly located at Westminster Suncoast, 1095 Pinellas Point Drive S., St. Petersburg, moved to Bay Vista Recreation Center, 7000 Fourth St. S., St. Petersburg.

• Precinct 201, formerly located at Addington Place at College Harbor, 4600 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, moved to Pinellas Community Church, 5501 31st St. S., St. Petersburg.

• Precincts 256 and 264, formerly located at Palm Garden of Largo, 10599 Starkey Road, Largo, moved to Starkey Road Baptist Church, 8800 Starkey Road, Seminole.

• Precinct 326, formerly located at The Barrington Retirement Community, 901 Seminole Blvd., Largo, moved to Largo Feed Store, 295 Central Park Drive, Largo.

• Precinct 342, formerly located at Elmcroft of Pinecrest, 1150 Eighth Ave. SW, Largo, moved to Christ Presbyterian Church, 3115 Dryer Ave., Largo.

• Precinct 529, formerly located at Mease Manor, 700 Mease Plaza, Dunedin, moved to Dunedin Assembly of God church, 885 Lake Haven Road, Dunedin.

• Precinct 629, formerly located at Stratford Court, 45 Katherine Blvd., Palm Harbor, moved to Bethel Lutheran Church, 3166 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.

• Precinct 631, formerly located at Coral Oaks, 900 West Lake Road, Palm Harbor, moved to Highland Lakes Club, 3300 MacGregor Drive, Palm Harbor.

Additional polling places may be moved before March 17. Voters are urged to confirm their polling place on Tuesday, by visiting votepinellas.com. Election workers will be stationed at all former polling places to direct voters as necessary.

 Presidential candidates

The presidential preference primary election is part of the nominating process. After the primary, party delegates will formally nominate their party’s preferred candidate at the national convention, at which time the party will decide on a candidate to appear on the general election ballot.

President Donald Trump has three challengers on the primary ballot, which is costing the county $125,000 more in election expenses this year. The county commission approved moving the money from reserves Feb. 11 to pay for the unexpected Republican primary.

Trump’s challengers include Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, who ran for president in 2016 as a Reform party candidate; and Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, who ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 2016.

The third challenger, Joe Walsh, a former U.S. Representative, ended his campaign Feb. 7 after the Iowa caucuses.

Democrats have 16 names to choose from, although 13 have dropped out of the race. As of March 8, only three candidates still had active campaigns: former Vice President Joe Biden, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet dropped out Feb. 11, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker ended his campaign Jan. 13 and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro dropped out Jan. 2.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney called it quits Jan. 31 and former governor of Massachusetts and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick ended his campaign Feb. 12.

Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak dropped out Dec. 1; Marianne Williamson, author, activist and spiritual leader from California, ended her campaign on Jan. 10; and Andrew Yang, a New York entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, lawyer and political commentator, dropped out Feb. 12.

Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund manager, philanthropist, environmentalist and liberal activist left the campaign trail Feb. 29 and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg announced he was leaving the race on March 1.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar pulled the plug on her campaign March 2 and businessman and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who called it quits on March 4. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped out March 5.

Municipal elections

Clearwater voters will be picking a new mayor since the incumbent George Cretekos is out due to term limits. Candidates include Elizabeth “Sea Turtle” Drayer, former mayor Frank Hibbard, former city council member Bill Jonson and Morton Myers.

Seat 2 councilmember Jay Polglaze also is leaving due to term limits. Five candidates are running to replace him, including Mark Bunker, Michael “Mike” Mannino, Bruce Rector, Eliseo Santana Jr. and Lina Teixeira.

Seat 3 incumbent Robert Cundiff is being challenged by Kathleen Beckman, Bud Elias and Scott R. Thomas. Clearwater voters also will be asked to decide on six referendum questions.

In Gulfport, voters have only one race to decide. Incumbent Dan Liedtke is being challenged by April Thanos for the Ward 1 council member seat.

Kenneth City voters will pick two out of four names on the ballot for two council member seats. The candidates are Paul Asche, Bonnie A. Noble, William J. Rosemiller and Megan Zemaitis.

In Madeira Beach, current mayor Maggi Black’s term expires in March and she is not seeking reelection. John B. Hendricks and Gary L. Hughes are running to take her place. Incumbent Deby Weinstein is running to serve another term as District 1 commissioner. She is being challenged by Helen “Happy” Price.

Voters in Oldsmar are participating in a special election to fill a vacant seat on the council. Chris Bohr, Andrew Knapp and Kelly O’Brien are all vying for Seat 3. Voters also have two ballot questions to answer.

In Pinellas Park, incumbent Rick Butler is being challenged by Connie Bruce for Seat 3 on the City Council.

In Redington Shores, voters will be asked to pick between incumbent Thomas W. Kapper and challenger Jennie Blackburn to serve as District 1 commissioner.

Safety Harbor voters will pick a mayor and a commissioner. Incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub is being challenged by Tanja Vidovic and incumbent Carlos Diaz has two challengers for Seat 4 on the Commission, John Patrick Estok and David Roth.

South Pasadena voters have 10 charter amendments to consider.

In St. Pete Beach, voters will decide between incumbent Terri Finnerty and Christopher Graus to serve as commissioner representing District 1.

Tarpon Springs voters will choose between challenger Susan Hales and incumbent Jacob Karr for Seat 1 commissioner.

In Treasure Island, voters will choose a replacement for District 4 commissioner Heidi Horak, whose term expires in March. Richard D. Harris and Maribeth L. Wetzel are vying for the job.

SOURCE: tbnweekly.com