Flagler County’s canvassing board met at noon today to certify 1,093 absentee ballots sent in for the GOP presidential primary, the second of seven meetings required to ensure the integrity of the Jan. 31 primary. The board meets again next Tuesday, election day, at noon and 6 p.m. Thursday, the Flagler County Commission met in special session to pick alternate members for its representation on the canvassing board, should alternates be necessary.
The canvassing board is made up of Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks, County Judge Sharon Atack (or her designee), and Barbara Revels, who chairs the county commission. Today, Circuit Judge Dennis Craig sat in for Atack, and will be sitting in for her at some of the coming meetings of the canvassing board, when Atack has conflicts. Atack is retiring from the bench at the end of the year. Her son, Craig, is one of the five candidates who have filed to run for the seat. Sharon Atack won’t be on the canvassing board whenever balloting involves her son.
Revels may face the same situation as the election season progresses. She has filed for re-election from District 3. So far, she’s drawn no opposition. As long as she has no opposition, or any other conflicts, she’ll represent the county on the canvassing board. Should she draw opposition, however, she’ll have to cede the seat to another commissioner who’s not running this year.
The Flagler County Commission convened for a special meeting Thursday (Jan. 26) to make alternative appointments to the canvassing board. In a meeting lasting less than five minutes, commissioners chose Milissa Holland as the first alternate, and Nate McLaughlin as the second alternate. Neither is running this year.
The commission’s two other commissioners, George Hanns and Alan Peterson, are running. Peterson has filed but has so far drawn no opposition. He was gathering petitions (he has to have some 600 petitions to avoid paying a steep filing fee) outside the government services building today at noon, while the canvassing board met in the Supervisor of Elections’ office. Hanns, a four-term incumbent Democrat, has not yet filed but is expected to. He already faces opposition: Herb Whitaker, a Republican who ran against Hanns four years ago and got 48 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, early voting for the GOP primary and the Flagler Beach municipal election–where voters are picking a new commissioner and a new mayor–continues. Turnout has been relatively slight, drawing just 1,284 voters as of the end of voting Thursday, or 5.4 percent of the registered Republican electorate. Florida has closed primaries, which means Democrats and Independents may not vote in the GOP’s contest. Barack Obama has drawn no primary opposition.
Absentee totals are separate from early voting, so the combined absentee-early-voting tally is 2,377, with two days of early voting to go. That’s almost 10 percent of the Republican electorate, a respectable figure compared to recent turnouts for local elections which, despite being non-partisan, have been in the 10 to 13 percent range after all votes were tallied.
Early voting, at the supervisor’s office in Bunnell, ends Saturday at 2:30 p.m.