Will Democrats cross party line to vote in Washington County races

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The Partisan Primary Election is Tuesday, August 9 and there’s an interesting conundrum ahead for Democrats in Washington County who want to vote for the next county clerk, treasurer and register of deeds.

“At a Partisan Primary Election you are voting for the candidates in one party of your choice to move on to the November ballot,” said Washington County Clerk Brenda Jaszewski.

All the candidates running for Washington County Clerk are listed under the Republican Party including Ashley Reichert, Braedy Helmbrecht and Aggie Pruner. Jane Merten and Sharon Martin are also listed under the Republican Party as they run for respective seats as County Treasurer and Register of Deeds.

“You can vote one party in August – that’s it. If you try to write in the name of a ballot candidate that’s already on the ballot, from one party to the other party, it will not be counted,” said Jaszewski. “You can certainly write the name in but it will not be counted.”

Jaszewski said if a different name is written in, that is not on the ballot under a different party, it will be counted because there are no Democratic candidates.

In essence, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Party and Constitution Party in Washington County are not voting for a ballot candidate for County Clerk, County Treasurer or Register of Deeds, unless they choose to vote only under the county category in the Republican Party Primary.

Jaszewski said one candidate selected from the county races will move on to the November Election.

“Every August we hear ‘I’ve always been able to vote for more than one party,’” said Jaszewski. “Well if you did and you did not choose a party preference then no one on your ballot counted.”

Jaszewski clarified, “If you do choose a party preference, and you vote for more than one party, only the candidates you voted for in the party that you filled in the oval for the party preference will be counted,” she said.

Technically, according to Jaszewski, you “don’t have to fill in the party preference oval, but it you don’t and then you cross over nothing on the ballot is counted.”

Jaszewski ordered a total of 60,925 ballots for the August Partisan Primary. It’s a large number but Jaszewski said it doesn’t represent the anticipated turnout, more so it’s because of spoiled ballots.

“We have so many who crossover vote and have to do it over; I just didn’t want to run out of ballots,” she said. “If a person does cross over the new machines at the polls will kick the ballot out, not accept it and then the person has to start with a new ballot.”


Jaszewski warns if people vote absentee and cross over party lines, nothing on their ballot will be counted.
The election for County Clerk is because Jaszewski is retiring at the end of the year. Jaszewski started with the county as the Account Clerk in April 1991. She has served as the county clerk since 2005.

On a side note: County administrator Joshua Schoemann is taking an ordinance to the County Board that would allow whoever wins the August primary for County Clerk, that person will come into Jaszewski’s office and training with her the rest of the year.

All three candidates for County Clerk are county employees. Reichert works in the Sheriff’s Office, Helmbrecht works in the county attorney’s office and Pruner is a legal secretary in the district attorney’s office.

The ordinance would make a part-time position that’s open in the county clerk’s office a full-time position. The pay scale for that new position, according to the county Human Resources Department, would be as close to the winning candidate’s current pay grade which ranges from about $18 an hour to $24 an hour.

I’m still checking to see whether the ordinance has a timeline/end date on the new full-time position or whether it would be permanent.


Photo courtesy expressingmotherhood.com


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