If you are one of the 93,000 Democrats or other non-Republican voters in St Johns County who fell victim to political manipulation of the race for St Johns County sheriff this year, Historic City News wants you to know that you can win back your right to vote and decide who will be our next sheriff. But, YOU MUST ACT NOW.
After months of campaigning by the two Republican candidates, Chris Strickland, former Director of the Office of St Johns County Sheriff, and Rob Hardwick, chief of the St Augustine Beach Police Department, a regional maintenance manager in the transportation industry walked into the elections office in St Augustine and filed a couple of signed forms declaring himself a “write-in candidate” for sheriff.
Scott C Boutwell, a 59-year-old registered Republican, with no apparent law enforcement experience, who paid no qualifying fee, who obtained no voter petitions, who disclosed no campaign “war chest” and who listed no campaign website, used the last minute tactic to stop practically half of St Johns County’s registered voters from deciding the winner in the county’s biggest election this year.
One of Shoar’s corrections deputies, 52-year-old Timothy F Boutwell, may have been coached to put his relative up as a “no-cost, no-risk” write-in candidate after recent news reports of police violence has driven the need for police body cameras into the spotlight.
Although Chris Strickland has unequivocally supported the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers, his opponent, Rob Hardwick, and city police chief Barry Fox, recently joined Sheriff Shoar for a front-page publicity photograph and story denouncing body cameras. Oops.
Strickland, who is strong on targeted job experience with over 30-years employment at the local sheriff’s office, has reported $173,792.00 in contributions to his campaign. Hardwick, who is strong on political connections and holds the endorsement of outgoing sheriff David Shoar, has reported $336,514.00 in contributions to his campaign. Boutwell has not yet reported any contributions.
So, how do you win back your right to vote if you want to support the Strickland campaign, including his support for body cameras by deputies if he is elected sheriff?
A voter can register with a party or change their party affiliation at any time. But, to vote for a partisan candidate in an upcoming Primary Election, the voter must register with that party or change their party by the registration deadline for that Primary Election — in this case by Monday, July 20, 2020. See section 97.055, Fla. Stat.
The good news is that you can register as a Republican or change your registration to Republican for the purpose of voting in this Primary Election from the comfort of your home or office. Information on how to register to vote or update your voter registration record is available online.
By way of explanation, Florida is a closed Primary Election state. Only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates or nominees for an office in a Primary Election. There are times when all registered voters can vote in a Primary Election, regardless of which major or minor political party they are registered to, or, even if they are registered without a specific party affiliation.
- If all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation (and the winner of the Primary Election will not face opposition in the General Election) then all registered voters can vote for any of the candidates for that office in the Primary Election — UNLESS a write-in candidate “qualified”.
- At a General Election, all registered voters receive the same ballot and may vote for any candidate or question on the ballot. If there are write-in candidates who have qualified for an office, a space will be left on the ballot where their name can be written.
If you are a participant in the Florida Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program (See sections 741-401.-741.409, and 741.465, Florida Statutes) contact your county Supervisor of Elections to register or change your party affiliation.