MidPoint: Florida’s 2022 primary election recap

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On Wednesday, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley joined Shelley for a Primary Election day recap. Who won, who lost, who is in a recount, and where were all the registered voters? Listen to the episode here

Voter turnout was less than 25% in both counties. That means that 75% of the voters let a small minority choose who would enter the final contests for our political leaders in November, and elect our judges, and school board representatives now. Latimer and Corley both decried the lack of voter engagement and the low turnout in this election which they noted was, percentage-wise, very similar to the last midterm election of 2018, even though, in Hillsborough, there were 71,000+ additional voters registered since then. According to both Supervisors, their polling places ran smoothly, without many of the expected disturbances from voters angry that Trump was not on the ballot. Perhaps, they speculated, that was due to the enormous increase in Vote By Mail voting since the Covid election of 2020.

Don’t Be Afraid to Cast a Provisional Vote if You Must

The Supervisors also emphasized the value of voting a provisional ballot when a voter lacks proper identification at the polling place. Supervisor Latimer explained that as long as the voter is properly registered to vote, and votes in the proper precinct on election day, his elections staff is usually able to identify the voter by a signature match, and that provisional ballot will then be counted just like a mail ballot. Unfortunately, too many voters show up at early vote sites expecting to vote there on election day when the law states they must vote only at their assigned precinct location. If the early vote site is also a precinct on election day, election poll workers there will inform that voter of their proper precinct, but if the early vote site is not a precinct on election day, that voter may never show up to vote at their own precinct. While some states do provide large voting centers on election day, where any voter from any precinct can vote, just like our early vote sites function, unfortunately, there are no current plans to allow for open voting centers in Florida on an election day.

Supervisor Latimer was also asked about the allegations of voter fraud made by Governor DeSantis last week in his press event in Broward county, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold. Governor DeSantis claimed that his election police force had uncovered 20 cases of ineligible voters voting in the 2020 election, all of them in 5 of the state’s Democratic majority counties, including Hillsborough. But, according to Supervisor Latimer, it is the responsibility of the State Division of Elections to inform the Supervisors of Election around the state when a registered voter is ineligible to vote. In these cases cited by DeSantis, he argued, the State failed to inform his office of the voters’ ineligible status until after the 2020 election had occurred and they had cast their vote.

There were some significant differences between the counties as noted by the elections officials. Supervisor Corley commented that Pasco county is becoming more deeply “Red,” with a much greater increase in the number of registered Republicans as the county has seen explosive population growth since 2018. In Hillsborough, even with their population growth, Democrats still hold a registration advantage and there is nearly the same number of registered “No Party Affiliation” voters as there are registered Republicans. In Pasco, the winners of their elections won decisively while in Hillsborough the races were much closer. Hillsborough will also have several election recounts beginning Thursday, including a machine recount for the school tax increase. A similar school tax increase passed handily in Pasco county.