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Early primary voting starts soon

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In less than two weeks, early voting will begin for the March 6 primary elections.

On the local ballot will be a presidential primary, as well as primary elections for county road superintendent and property assessor.

Because Tennessee does not register voters by party, anyone can choose to vote in either the Democratic primary or the Republican primary (but not both, at least not for the same election).

For this particular election, the Republican ballot is the only one with contested races.

Unopposed

On the Democratic primary ballot, President Barack Obama is unopposed except for the option to vote for a slate of uncommitted delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Also unopposed are incumbent Road Superintendent Stanley Smotherman and incumbent Assessor of Property Ronda Clanton.

No one qualified to run as a Republican or an independent for either of those county offices, so Smotherman and Clanton will also be unopposed on the August general election ballot.

Competition

Because of qualifying deadlines, the Republican ballot includes candidates who have dropped out of the presidential race since the ballot was finalized. On the ballot in Tennessee are Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Charles "Buddy" Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, plus the option to vote for a slate of uncommitted convention delegates. Gingrich, Paul, Roemer, Romney and Santorum are still active GOP candidates. Bachmann and Perry have dropped out. Johnson, after originally campaigning as a Republican, has dropped out of the GOP race and is now seeking the Libertarian Party nomination.

How to vote

The Democratic primary ballot includes only the name of the presidential candidate. The Republican primary ballot is a bit more complex. Voters can choose their favorite candidate, but in a separate race they are also asked to vote for the actual delegates who will represent Tennessee at the party convention.

Early voting for the March 6 election will be held Feb. 15-28 in the basement of the county courthouse. Hours are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Thursday; 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday. The office will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, for Presidents' Day.

Voter IDs

New laws require that voters present photo ID at the polls. Voters who do not already have valid photo IDs may obtain free photo IDs usable for voting from any participating Department of Safety driver service center across the state. The local driver's license center is located at 1304 Railroad Ave.

Voters over the age of 60 who have driver's licenses without photos and no other form of valid photo IDs for voting may have their photos added to their licenses free of charge.

Examples of acceptable photo IDs, even if expired, include: a Tennessee driver's license with a photo, a United States passport, a Department of Safety photo ID, a United States military photo ID, a state-issued handgun carry permit, or any other photo ID issued by the federal or state government, except college student IDs.

Later elections

In August, primary elections will be held for the state and federal House and Senate seats.

Bedford County has been moved from the 6th Congressional District into the 4th District, and will vote for the 4th District U.S. House seat during this election cycle.

The general election in August will include the road superintendent and property assessor posts, all nine seats on Bedford County Road Board, five seats on Bedford County Board of Education, and one seat on Bedford County Board of Commissioners. A Bell Buckle town election will also be held that day.

The November general election will include the presidential race, the state and federal House and Senate seats, three seats on Shelbyville City Council, and town elections in Wartrace and Normandy.

For more information, contact the county election office at 684-0531 or go to www.bedfordcountytn.org/election.php.


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