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Tennessee, nine other states heading to polls

Gary B. Gray • Mar 3, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Tennessee is one of 10 states that will choose it’s favorite Republican presidential candidate on “Super Tuesday,” adding delegates to a growing tally from states pledged to support its pick at the GOP convention in Tampa Bay, Fla., in August.

The state this year has a total of 58 delegates from a combination of at-large and district delegates, plus “bonus” delegates consisting of the governor and U.S. Senate and House members. A total of 1,144 delegate votes are needed to nominate a candidate.

As of Friday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney led the pack with 167 delegates, followed by former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (87), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (32) and Texas and Congressman Ron Paul (19).

Both parties operate with two types of delegates: pledged and unpledged. The group of unpledged delegates, also known as super-delegates, generally comprising current and former elected officeholders and party leaders, are free to vote for any candidate they wish at the convention. The group of pledged delegates, comprising delegates representing the party committee of each state, are expected to vote in accordance with the rules of their state party.

During Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Primary, voters can choose a Democratic ballot which will only bear the name of one candidate — Barack Obama. Likewise, voters can choose a Republican ballot and help select the Republican nominee to face President Obama.

Other names that will appear on the Republican ballot, including Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Rick Perry, and Buddy Roemer, even though some of them have already dropped out of the race and others were never serious contenders.

Meanwhile, early voting for the March 6 Presidential Preference Primary has ended and the Washington County Election Commission turned their focus Thursday on final preparations for next week’s election.

“We have about 130 voting machines for the 39 precincts, and we’re randomly choosing machines and testing them to make sure they are functioning properly,” said Maybell Stewart, interim administrator of elections.”

Commissioners ran through the process with various MicroVote machines, from physically setting them up to making sure they functioned properly to printing out copies of paper ballots that will be checked beginning about half way through election day.

“Though we only had three people show up for early voting without photo identification, people need to know they must have one to vote,” Stewart said. “They also should know our three voting locations will be open Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”

A total of 3,566 early and absentee votes were cast by Washington County residents this year, compared to 7,918 early votes in the 2008 Presidential Preference Primary, a decline of 4,352.

On Feb. 27, the next to last day to vote early, 506 people voted — the highest daily total since early voting began on Feb. 15. On the final day of early voting — Wednesday — that number was nearly doubled with 968 votes recorded.

“There was a lot more wide open races on the 2008 ballot,” she said. “It looks like a lot of people just decided to vote on the last day.”

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 in an attempt to rein in revenues for schools. As required by law, there will be a question on the ballot which asks whether the voter wants the tax increase.

Washington County residents may vote on March 6 from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at their local precinct.

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

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