Today last day of early voting ahead of March 6 primary

Gary B. Gray • Feb 27, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Today is the last day of early voting for Washington County’s March 6 Presidential Preference Primary and the last day to receive and process absentee votes.

As of 1 p.m. Monday, the Washington County Election Commission Interim Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart said 2,343 early votes had been counted, including early votes and absentee votes. That number indicates this year’s total will be extremely low when compared to the 2008 Presidential Preference Primary which pulled in a total of 7,918 early and absentee votes.

“I just don’t know if people haven’t made up their minds or if they just plan to wait until the March election,” Stewart said. “Tuesday (today) is the last day of early voting, and we’ll be open at all three locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

The March 6 primary ballot includes the election of the county’s Assessor of Property and one County Commission seat that will permanently fill the spot that opened up last year when Richard Shadden passed away.

Republican Scott Buckingham has been the county assessor for the past three years, being appointed to the position when it was left open. He is running unopposed for a four-year term that would carry him through 2016.

Commissioner Mike Ford was appointed to fulfill Shadden’s term, which ends Aug. 31, 2014. Ford, a Republican, also is running unopposed, unless a write-in candidate files, but that hasn’t happened for either of these seats.

The state primaries and county general election will be held on Aug. 2. The county has placed a quarter-cent sales tax referendum on that ballot. As required by law, there will be a question on the ballot which asks whether the voter wants the tax increase.

Currently, the state keeps 7 percent of Washington County’s 9.5 percent sales tax rate. The local rate is 2.5 percent but would rise to a maximum 2.75 percent if increased, bringing the total sales tax rate to 9.75 — the maximum currently allowed by state law.

If successful, revenues derived from the increase would go toward county and city schools operations.

Meanwhile, the state and federal general election is Nov. 6.

Those who do not have a valid photo identification need to know the General Assembly passed a law last year requiring all Tennesseans to show photo identification when they go to the polls. Tennesseans have a number of easy options for registering to vote. One is to fill out a form when you renew your driver’s license. Another is to pick up a form at the public library.

“We’ve only had one person that did not have photo identification and had to use a provisional ballot,” Stewart said.

The Washington County branch of the state’s driver’s licence department is located in Johnson City at 4717 Lake Park Drive. You can also fill out a voter registration form at the Washington County Election Commission office.

Tennesseans can register to vote at the county clerk or register of deeds offices, as well as at many state offices. You can also go to www.tn.gov/sos/election/registration.htm to download a voter registration form.

For more information on voting registration, call the Washington County Election Commission office at 753-1813.

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