There isn’t any excitement brewing for countywide offices this year, in fact there aren’t even any on the upcoming ballot, but the Nov. 6 general election is upon us, and it’s a big one.
Early voting opens Saturday, and runs through Saturday, Nov. 3 in Apalachicola and in Carrabelle, with the choice of president highlighting the ballot. Those who want to vote early can do so at the Supervisor of Elections office in Apalachicola, or the Carrabelle annex, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Supervisor of Elections Ida Elliott said the county could see upwards of an 80 to 85 percent turnout, bettering the 79.3 percent turnout four years ago. “You always want a wonderful turnout,” she said.
In addition to deciding between Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Franklin County voters will decide whether to re-elect Democratic incumbent Florida Sen. Bill Nelson or put in Republican challenger Connie Mack.
In Congressional District 2, incumbent Republican Steve Southerland (Panama City) is facing a challenge from Democrat Al Lawson (Tallahassee).
In the race to fill the Florida House District 7 seat, vacated by Leonard Bembry, Liberty County Clerk of Court Robert Hill is running as a Democrat against Tallahassee nurseryman Halsey Beshears, the Republican candidate.
In Florida Senate District 3, incumbent Democrat Bill Montford is running against Republican John Shaw.
Running for state attorney in the 2nd Judicial Circuit are incumbent Democrat Willie Meggs against Republican challenger Pete Williams.
In the race for circuit judge of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, a non-partisan race, Josefina Tamayo is running against Barbara Hobbs.
Voters throughout the state will decide whether three members of the Florida Supreme Court should be retained – Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince - and in the District 1 Court of Appeals, whether Judges Simone Marstiller, Stephanie Ray, Ron Swanson and Brad Thomas should be kept on.
Eleven amendments to the Florida Constitution will be before voters, with each needing at least 60 percent support for approval.
The county has 7,451 registered voters, of these 4,986 Democrats, 1,753 Republicans, and 712 either unaffiliated or with other parties, according to the supervisor of elections website, http://votefranklin.com
Two county commission races to be decided
Of the five county commission districts, only two feature races on the ballot, and there are no school board races at all.
In District 1, which includes St. George Island and most of Eastpoint, incumbent Republican Pinki Jackel, 54, of St. George Island, is facing a challenge from Democrat Tony Shiver, 52, St. George Island.
In District 5, which encompasses portions of Eastpoint east to Carrabelle, Democrat William Massey, 52, of Carrabelle, is squaring off against Hank Garrett, 61, of Eastpoint, who is running without party affiliation. Massey defeated longtime incumbent county commissioner Bevin Putnal in the August primary.
While county voters are known for crossing party lines in casting their votes, Democrats outnumber Republicans in each of the five districts within the county.
In District 1, the largest of the five, of the 1,826 registered voters, there are 1,111 Democrats, about twice the number of Republicans, 557. The remainder, 158, are without party affiliation.
In District 5, which has 1,519 registered voters, there are 1,033 Democrats, more than three times as many Republicans, 322, with the remainder, 164, with no party affiliation.
The most balance between the two parties is in District 2, which includes Alligator Point and Lanark Village, and where there are 1,598 registered voters. A little more than half of these are Democrats, 870, with about a third Republicans, 521, and the remainder, 207, without party affiliation.
In District 3, which is the city of Apalachicola, north of U.S. 98, there are 1,022 Democrats, and just 152 Republicans, with 93 without party affiliation, for a total of 1,267 registered voters.
In District 4, the historic district of Apalachicola south of U.S. 98, there are 1,238 registered voters, 947 of these Democrats, 201 Republicans and the rest, 90, without party affiliation.
Elliott said voters throughout the county will be using the same voting method as four years ago, although there are now additional options for the disabled.
“These are still touch screens, but it’s just like a huge pencil,” she said. “It doesn’t count, there’s no counter; all it is a marking device and very nice and neat. They bring it straight to the M100 (optical scanner) machine and put it in.”
Elliott said absentee ballots can be picked up during office hours, and can be mailed out up until five days before the election. All must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Elliott said the county mailed out 25 military ballots – 19 of them to domestic stations and six overseas – on Sept. 22. They must be postmarked by Election Day, and can arrive up until Nov. 16 if they are from overseas.
In the event any of the elections require a recount, or there are provisional ballots to decide upon, the canvassing board consists of County Judge Van Russell, Commissioner Cheryl Sanders and Elliott.
Elliott said the postal service this week is mailing out sample ballots throughout the county, and she encouraged individuals to take a look. “Everybody should get them,” she said. “I don’t consider it junk mail.”
She said sample ballots are also available on the website http://votefranklin.com, which contains an abundance of information about all things election in the county.