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Absentee ballots already mailed to overseas voters for St. Pete election

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Ballots for St. Pete City Council District 7 have already gone out to overseas voters. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office sent out 26 ballots on July 10 for the August 25 Primary Election. That’s just one day ahead of the deadline to mail overseas ballots.

Those ballots went out to active-duty military and their spouses and dependents who are currently serving outside the District and civilians who are currently living outside the country but who are registered to vote in the District.

Another 6,000 ballots will be mailed to domestic voters in District 7 on or around July 21. The state requires ballots to be mailed between 28 and 35 days prior to elections.

While campaign strategies for domestic voters who requested vote-by-mail ballots will be targeted the same as those who chose to vote at the ballot box, overseas voters are different.

With just 26 ballots mailed, only a handful are expected to be returned. Military personnel can often be distracted from political affairs at home and local elections often go unnoticed. Campaign leaders typically send only a letter to those individuals receiving mail ballots overseas.

The District 7 election to replace Wengay Newton is a crowded one. Newton’s brother, Will Newton, is running for the seat with strong backing from firefighters. Newton is a retired firefighter.

Also in the race is community activist Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Code Enforcement board chair Aaron Sharpe, Sheila Scott-Griffin and Elvert Lewis Stephens.

Council members Steve Kornell and Charlie Gerdes each drew challengers for the November General Election, but both are expected to win handily. Ed Montanari was elected to District 3 without opposition. He will replace outgoing council member Bill Dudley.

Mail ballots for the Primary Election can still be requested at the Supervisor of Elections website or by calling 727-464-VOTE (8683). Requests can also be emailed to absentee@votepinellas.com. The deadline to request a mail ballot is August 19 at 5 p.m.

Requests will be filled as they are received.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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