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Low turnout for primary on Tuesday?

Escambia County voters will head to the polls Tuesday to determine who nominees for the Republic and Democratic parties will be heading to the November’s general election.

Circuit Clerk Kenneth Taylor said absentee ballots are out and have been returned slowly to his office. And if those ballots are an indicator for Tuesday’s election, turnout may be slim.

“In a typical election we have close to 300 absentee ballots processed,” Taylor said. “Since we’ve only had 149 applications for absentee ballots, that would indicate the turnout may be very slim.”

Taylor said of the ballot applications only 82 ballots have been returned.

“We still have 65 ballots that have not been processed and two that have been rejected,” Taylor said. “This is a low return for absentee ballots. In the last general election we had over 800, nearly 900, absentee ballots returned. That was a record for us. The returns have been low and really slow until the first of this week.”

Taylor said absentee ballots must be in the clerk’s office by noon on election day to be valid.

“We had 65 or 70 ballots returned Tuesday and Wednesday,” Taylor said. “Up until that time we only had about 25 ballots returned. Those ballots have to be in to our office by noon on election day. With Monday being a holiday, people won’t be able to bring them into our office. The remaining ballots we receive will be in the mail from the weekend or on Tuesday.”

Probate Judge Emilie Mims said Friday machines and personnel are ready for Tuesday’s election.

“Everything is ready and set to go for Tuesday,” Mims said. “The sheriff has already picked up the list of registered votes that go to polling officials. Machines are being delivered and everything is going great.”

Mims said 30 polling places throughout the county will be equipped with ballots; personnel and information voters need to cast a vote in the election.

“Every polling place has a minimum of four workers per machine,” Mims said. “We have three polling places that have two machines, so more workers will be at those locations. We have 165 poll workers ready for Tuesday.”

Mims said turnout for the primary election is an unknown at this point, but she is hopeful voters will find their way to the polls.

“It’s hard to say what kind of turnout we’ll have Tuesday,” Mims said. “The fact that this election falls the day after a holiday may have us somewhat handicapped. We are hopeful that voters will make an effort to get to the polls.”

Mims said voters who want to cast a ballot for candidates in the primary will have to declare a party before voting.

“During this primary election voters will have to declare a party before they vote,” Mims said. “Voters will have to choose to vote on either the Republican or Democrat ticket. If they are not willing to declare a party, they will be given a constitutional amendment ballot. They will only be able to vote on the constitutional amendment and not a particular candidate.”

Although voters will have to declare a party affiliation during the primary election, the general election will allow voters to cast ballots for candidates of either party.

“Only in the primary election is a voter required to make a party declaration in order to cast a ballot for candidates,” Mims said. “In November at the general election voters won’t have to make a party declaration and will be able to vote for Republicans and Democrats of their choice.”

Mims said voters should be aware of certain rules and regulations in place at polling locations.

“Voters need to remember that it is required to show identification at the polls before they can vote,” Mims said. “Once they show identification the poll worker will make sure they are on the active voters list.”

Voters must be on the active voters list at their polling precinct in order to vote, Mims said.

“If someone has moved in the past couple of years and has not re-registered they may not be on the active voters list in their precinct,” Mims said. “They will need to go to their old precinct in order to vote.”

Mims said any questions concerning eligibility to vote and the proper voting precinct for voters can be determined by calling the Board of Registrars at 867-0243.