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Many in Pinellas vote by mail before Tuesday's election

Polls open Tuesday morning, but election day is history for more than 26,000 voters.

That's how many Pinellas County residents have cast ballots already in local elections.

Most of them — 20,300 — will help decide the most closely watched contest, the St. Petersburg mayoral election.

St. Petersburg voters will pick between Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster, both attorneys and former City Council members, in the mayor's race, and select five council members. They also will decide whether to make some minor changes to the city charter.

Largo residents will elect a city commissioner and decide whether to amend the city's charter. St. Pete Beach voters will decide on four charter amendments, too.

For those who have yet to vote, here's what to expect:

Will there be long lines at polling places?

In a word, no. It's possible certain locations will have people waiting, but turnout is expected to be dim overall. The Sept. 1 primary had 23 percent turnout in St. Petersburg. Plus, a majority of voters will send in ballots by mail, if the primary is any gauge.

Where did the political parties go?

The city elections are nonpartisan — a vestige of anti-political machine reforms — although candidates belong to political parties. Democrats have openly advocated for Democrat Kathleen Ford in a city where there are 31,000 more Democrats than Republicans. Pinellas Republicans have been more subtle, but GOP member Bill Foster has sought help from party activists in the county organization.

I have a mail ballot but I haven't returned it. What should I do?

Mail ballots can be returned at any elections office by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voters also can take their unused ballot to their polling place to be voided. They will then be allowed to vote there. Completed mail ballots cannot be dropped off at any precinct. If a voter forgets to bring a received mail ballot, poll workers are supposed to call an elections office to make sure the mail ballot has not been received.

I can't remember where my polling place is. What should I do?

Voters can confirm their polling places by calling the Supervisor of Elections Office at (727) 464-6788. They also can go to www.votepinellas.com and click on the "current elections" tag to locate the polling place. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

What should I bring to polling places in order to vote?

It's best to bring identification with a photo and signature to avoid delays. Lacking that, people can vote a provisional ballot. The election canvassing board will review the validity of provisional ballots.

Can I still register to vote in these elections?

No — the books closed Oct. 5. If you have moved, you are required by state law to vote in your new home precinct. Changes can be made by phoning the elections office.

On Tuesday's ballots

St. Petersburg

Mayor

Kathleen Ford

Bill Foster

Council District 2

Steve Corsetti

James R. "Jim" Kennedy Jr.

Council District 4

Leslie Curran

Pamella Settlegoode

Council District 5

Steve Kornell

Angela Rouson

Council District 6

Karl Nurse

Vel Thompson

Council District 8

Jeff Danner

Leonard Schmiege

Charter amendments

• No. 1. Would change the city charter to standardize the method for filling council vacancies.

• No. 2. Would allow changes to the charter by ordinance when required by the supervisor of elections.

Largo

City Commission, Seat 3

Curtis A. Holmes

Rodney J. Woods

Charter amendment

Would amend qualifying period for commission candidates and providing for availability of petition cards.

St. Pete Beach

Charter amendments

• No. 1. Voter approval of comprehensive plan amendments.

• No. 2. Voter approval of amendments to the land development code.

• No. 3. Comprehensive plan amendments for Pass-a-Grille.

• No. 4. Comprehensive plan amendment on infrastructure, capital improvements, conservation, and coastal, intergovernmental coordination elements.

Many in Pinellas vote by mail before Tuesday's election 11/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2009 2:24pm]

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