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Bonifay city election is March 28: Here’s what voters need to know

Bonifay City Council held a town hall meeting regarding the upcoming election just before its regular session Monday night. With unusual term limits on the ballot, the council opened the floor for voters to ask questions and learn other election procedures.  

When is voting?

Early voting will be Friday, March 24 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday, March 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bonifay City Hall located at 301 N. Harvey Etheridge St. Mail in, or absentee ballots, may be picked up at city hall during the early voting hours and on Election Day which is Tuesday, March 28 beginning at 7 a.m. and must be dropped off before the close of voting at 7 p.m.

What about absentee ballots?

City Clerk Rickey Callahan emphasized that absentee ballots may be picked up by a designated person. The designee must be an immediate family member such as a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the absentee voter. The designee may only pick up two absentee ballots per election, and the voter must sign an affidavit authorizing the designee to pick up the absentee ballot. The form must be picked up at city hall, the absentee voter must fill out and sign the affidavit, and it must be brought back by the designee when picking up an absentee ballot. 

The designee will be given an envelope to put the absentee ballot in and be asked to sign over the seal and then be able to watch the envelope go into a locked box when it is returned during designated hours. Absentee ballots returned during early voting will be kept in the locked box inside the vault at city hall until it is open to be counted on Election Day. Ballots will be opened and counted in view of the public after the poll closes.

What happens on Election Day?

Bonifay resident Wayne Powell raised the issue of whether candidates or a representative of the candidate will be allowed to be in the room as ballot envelopes are opened and counted by going into the voting machine. City Attorney Michelle Jordan said that is allowed as long as the candidate is not wearing anything related to their campaign.

Early voters should note that all ballots will be kept in the locked box and go into the machine that counts them after the poll closes at 7 p.m. on Election Day. Before ballots are put in the counting machine, the signature on the ballot will be compared to the voter’s signature on file with the Holmes County Supervisor of Elections office. 

What changes will be on the ballot?

The term limits for two seats will be one year instead of the usual two-year term. The one-year term limits are due to recent turnover on the council and intended to get the council back on an alternating election cycle so the whole council is not up for reelection at once.  

Each seat and current council members in them are:

Seat 1 – two-year term on ballot and currently held by Dr. Emily McCann, who announced she will resign immediately upon the opening of qualifying to run for mayor

Seat 2 – one-year term on the ballot and currently held by Vice-Mayor Ryan Martin

Seat 3 – two-year term on the ballot and currently held by Rick Crews

Seat 4 – one-year term on the ballot and currently held by Sierra Smith

Mayor – two-year term on the ballot and currently held by Travis Cook

When may candidates qualify to be on the ballot?

Qualifying for the Bonifay city election will run from Monday, March 6 at 8 a.m. through Friday, March 10 at 3 p.m. Election Day is Tuesday, March 28 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact Bonifay City Hall at 850-547-4238 with any additional questions about how to qualify for office or cast a ballot in the 2023 Bonifay city election. 

Historically, how many Bonifay voters have participated in past elections?

According to the Holmes County Supervisor of Elections Therisa Meadows, 208 people voted in the 2022 Bonifay city election. In 2021, 252 voted. In 2020, 116 voted as COVID-19 gripped the nation. There was not a Bonifay city election in 2019 due to no seats being contested. In 2018, only 183 voted. 

Meadows said there are 1,481 registered voters eligible to vote in the Bonifay city election this month. Less than 20 percent of eligible voters have turned out over the past five years. 

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