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Primary Election Day Tuesday -early voting off to strong start

By Tim Croft
The Star

Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon believed COVID-19 might dampen in-person turnout for Tuesday’s primary election. 

So far, not so much. 

After only two days of early voting, more than 400 voters had turned up at either of the two “super centers” for Gulf County elections, Hanlon’s office at 401 Long Ave. or the Wewahitchka Public Library. 

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Hanlon said. “I really thought COVID would impact our turnout, but I haven’t seen it.” 

Though not mandated, Hanlon noted, every voter wore a face mask and the staff at the elections offices sanitized booths, counters and chairs after each use. 

Add to the in-person turnout more than 800 mailed ballots, and voter turnout, as of early this week, was already over 12 percent with more than a week of voting remaining. 

Primaries tend to draw about 40-45 percent of the eligible voters, Hanlon said. 

“I am hoping the turnout will continue like it has but I do think we’ll be coming in higher than normal for a primary election,” Hanlon said. 

Voting continues 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET each day through Tuesday’s primary day. 

Republicans will select a candidate to run for sheriff in November, either incumbent Sheriff Mike Harrison or challenger Rhett Butler. 

All other constitutional officers were automatically re-elected in June when candidate-qualifying ended. 

Republicans will also vote for a state committeeman with David Ashbrook and Tom Semmes in the race. 

In District 3, all voters will have the opportunity to decide two district representatives 

The race for Board of County Commissioners is a universal primary as Joan Lovelace and Patrick Ferrell are each Republican. 

Commissioner Jimmy Rogers did not seek re-election. 

The Gulf County School Board race in District 3, with incumbent Cindy Belin facing a challenge from Carl Fox, is non-partisan, as are all school board races. 

In District 4, as it is a school board and therefore non-partisan race, all eligible district voters will choose from among five candidates: Thomas Buttram, Deborah Crosby, Marvin Davis, Charles Gathers and Amy Rogers. 

One of those candidates must win 50 percent plus one of the vote to win. 

If no one does, the top-two vote-getters will face each other in a runoff.