Wewahitchka city commissioners voted March 24 to allow Gulf County Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon’s office to conduct their upcoming city elections for the first time since 2010.
Hanlon, who was present at the board’s regular session meeting, recommended that the city piggyback their election off of Gulf County’s existing primary.
Since the Wewahitchka city charter does not give a specific date when an election must be held, the city is able to tailor their election date to accommodate this request, which would keep election costs down.
“I’m not going to charge you for things that I’m already having to do,” Hanlon said. “I’m not going to charge you for ballot stock. I’m already having to print ballots. I’m not going to charge you for staffing polling locations. I’m already having to do that.”
Hanlon estimated the costs for this coding would total somewhere between $300 and $400.
However, he did express that during odd election years, such as next year’s Wewahitchka mayoral race, the county typically did not have an election that the city could piggyback off or, bringing their total election cost up to $3,000 or $4,000.
“Sometimes I have a primary, but most of the time I don’t,” he told the commissioners. “So in an odd election year, if you have to have a stand alone election, then you’re going to have to pay the coding costs, the ballot costs, postage and all that.”
Voters will be able to vote at their normal voting precincts, which for residents of Wewahitchka is either in Honeyville or at the Wewahitchka Charles Whitehead Public Library.
For those voting in Honeyville, outside of city lines, Hanlon said that newer voting technologies, which print ballots specifically for individual voters, would be able to identify Wewahitchka residents and print ballots with city races listed on them.
Hanlon said that until this technology was made available to the county, piggybacking city elections off of federal, state or county races was logistically difficult to accomplish.
“But with the technology we have now, it is no problem whatsoever,” he said.
City commissioners Johnny Paul, of Ward 3, and Charlie Pettis, of Ward 4, are up for reelection this year.
City Clerk Rachel Jackson proposed in the meeting that the city would advertise their election dates in May of this year and that candidate qualifying would be held in June.
Should no one qualify to run against Paul or Pettis, an election will not be held, and there will be no cost to the city.