Tuesday last day to register to vote in August elections

J. H. Osborne • Jul 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Tuesday is the deadline for registering to vote in August elections — the county’s general election, the Democratic primary and the Republican primary.

In-person registration, at the Sullivan County Election Office, will end at 5 p.m. Mailed registrations must be postmarked no later than that date to be processed.

Early voting for the elections begins July 18 in Blountville and July 25 at satellite locations in Kingsport and Bristol. Early voting ends at all three locations on Aug. 2.

Sullivan County residents who early vote for Aug. 7 elections will use paper ballots and optical scan equipment if they cast their early ballots at the Sullivan County Office Building in Blountville.

Use of the optical scan system will expand to satellite locations — Kingsport’s Civic Auditorium, and the Bristol YWCA on State Street — for early voting for the November election. The optical scan system, however, will not be used in any precinct on Election Day in August or November.

“We are doing this to introduce the voters to the system,” Administrator of Elections Gena Frye said. “We do want to expand use of this in November. The switch to optical scan is what is going to happen. The legislature passed this, and this is what we will be using as a voting system no later than 2010. So we’re just trying to get a jump on things and help the voters get adjusted to it. It’s mandatory by 2010.”

The new law requires that voting systems provide a “ballot of record,” via paper ballot marked by the voter, and requires such ballots to be available to a voter to verify their votes, while maintaining the secrecy of the voter’s choices, Frye said.

“It calls for all counties in the state to begin using precinct-based optical scan voting systems by November 2010,” Frye said.

Other than for absentee ballots or emergency situations on Election Day, Sullivan County voters have never used optical scan ballots before, Frye said.

Sullivan County voters will go to the polls Aug. 7 for three ballots: Democratic and Republican party primaries for state and federal offices on the November ballot; and a general election that includes two County Commission seats and four county school board seats.

The Aug. 7 ballot includes:

•State House District 1 — County Commissioner Michael Surgenor has filed to run in the Democratic primary to become the party’s candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives. That seat is held by Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol. Lundberg is seeking re-election.

•State House District 2 — Incumbent state Rep. Nathan Vaughn, D-Kingsport, is seeking re-election. Republican Tony Shipley of Kingsport is seeking his party’s nomination to challenge Vaughn in November.

•State House District 3 — Incumbent state Rep. Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, is seeking re-election. He has no challengers from Sullivan County.

•State Senate District 2 — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, is seeking re-election to the Tennessee Senate. Kingsport’s James W. Jones has filed to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Ramsey.

•U.S. House District 1— Two Kingsport Democrats, Robert A. Russell and Michael A. Donihe, have filed in Sullivan County to seek the party’s nomination to run in November for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by David Davis, R-Johnson City.

Davis is seeking re-election and faces opposition in the GOP primary from Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe and Johnson City resident Mahmood “Michael” Sabri.

All four Sullivan County BOE members whose seats are on the ballot filed petitions to seek re-election. None has a challenger at this point, although the deadline for write-in candidates doesn’t roll around until mid-June.

The four BOE members who will be on the August ballot are:

•District 1 — Jack Bales.

•District 3 — Jim Kiss.

•District 5 — Ron Smith.

•District 7 — Betty Combs.

In all, seven candidates filed to run for two County Commission seats on the August ballot — two people for one seat, and five for the other seat.

In August, voters in two County Commission districts will elect replacements to finish out unexpired terms of commissioners who died in recent months:

•District 3 (Bristol area) voters will elect someone to finish out the term of Ralph Harr, who died in late 2007. The County Commission appointed his son, Jon Harr, to fill the seat until the election in August.

•District 6 (which runs from Bloomingdale to Indian Springs) voters will elect someone to finish out the term of Howard Patrick, who died earlier this year. The County Commission appointed his wife, Pat Patrick, to fill the seat until the election in August.

Neither Harr nor Patrick sought to be on the ballot to hold those seats past August.

Two people filed to run for Harr’s commission seat: Bart Long, 711 Holston Ave., Bristol; and Robert W. Neal, 361 Blountville Hwy.

Five people filed to run for Patrick’s seat: Bobby E. Brooks, 111 Chateaugay Road; former County Commissioner Larry Hall, 1314 Childress Ferry Road; Matthew J. Johnson, 413 Ferncliff Drive; Rodger K. Jones, 216 New Beason Well Road; and Craig Ramey, 616 Newland Ave.

The August ballot also includes races for all the county’s constable districts.

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