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Pinellas County mails overseas ballots for municipal elections

Domestic ballots with go out Feb. 5.

The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office mailed a total of 272 ballots to absent military and overseas voters Friday ahead of the March 12 municipal elections.

Six municipalities including the cities of Belleair Beach, Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, Madeira Beach, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs as well as the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District are all holding elections.

Several other municipalities canceled their elections this year because incumbents were elected without opposition, which is common in smaller cities and municipalities.

Absent military and overseas voters include all active-duty military, their spouses and dependents who are serving abroad. It also includes civilians who are U.S. citizens but who are currently residing outside the United States.

More than 22,000 domestic voters will begin receiving ballots in early February. The Supervisor’s office expects to start mailing those to voters who have requested them February 5.

Voters can still request a mail ballot on the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website. The deadline to request one is March 6 at 5 p.m.

The Supervisor’s office updates mail ballot numbers, including how many are returned, on its website daily.

The county fire district referendum asks voters whether to raise non-ad valorem annual assessment rates previously set in 2008 by $100 each for single-family residential units, commercial units up to 500 square-feet and motel units, mobile home lots and recreational vehicle lots. If approved, rates will go from $260 to $360, $$286 to $386 and $165 to $265, respectively.

That district serves unincorporated areas of the county as well as in the regions that do not offer full-service public safety like fire and police — those areas contract service through the Pinellas County.

All of the other races are city-specific, and only voters who are falling within that jurisdiction will receive ballots. Most races include contested mayor and city council or city commission seats.

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Early voting is not offered in these municipal elections.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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