Monday, May 20

Could low turnout for Florida primary impact November general election?

Primaries took place across Florida on Tuesday but Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast reported a relatively low voter turnout.

Counties across the WPTV viewing area only reported about a 20% turnout of registered voters.

“Is that number alarming? Did we expect that kind of number in the primaries?” WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked FAU political science professor Kevin Wagner.

“My expectation wasn’t that high, because for many people, the primary race was the only thing on their ballot and that was already settled since it’s only one candidate still in it,” Wagner said.

Wagner said election turnout depends on how competitive the election is.

Voter turnout percentage by county:

Palm Beach County: 22.36% Martin County: 20.63% St. Lucie County: 22.7% Indian River County: 23.46% Okeechobee County: 21.9%

Wagner predicts an entirely different level of engagement come November since there will be more races and matters to vote on.

“Do these numbers reflect at all the turnout come November elections?” Lopez asked.

“I think we’re going to have a hard time projecting these numbers onto November primarily because it’s going to be a different kind of race,” Wagner said. “It’s going to be a much more competitive race, and of course you’re going to have up and down the ballot races, you’re going to have state house races, you’re going to have congressional races.”

According to Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections data, there were 493,132 new registered voters by the end of 2023.

That’s 208,5020 fewer registered voters than in 2022 when there were 701,634 registered voters.

Wagner said historically young people haven’t had a big turnout on Election Day, saying that people over 65 have the highest turnout.

“I just did something for the first time I didn’t think I was ever going to do,” first-time voter Natalie Steindl said. “It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.”

Steindl, 23, cast her very first ballot at the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center on Tuesday.

“Tell me about why this was the year for you to vote,” Lopez asked.

“When I turned 18, I guess I just had a huge fear of voting, and I didn’t really have the motivation to do it,” Steindl said.

She said her motivation this year was supporting her friend, John David Corey, who was running for town council.

It’s a mindset Wagner said is common among younger voters.

“One of the difficulties for young people, especially people that are just becoming eligible to vote, is that they have a hard time necessarily seeing the connection between their vote and policies and government and the things that matter in their lives,” Wagner said.

According to Wagner, young people tend to be the least happy and the most dissatisfied with the state of the political system, which has resulted in a lack of interest at the polls.

“Sometimes you’ll see campaigns mostly focus on older voters mostly because you know they’re going to vote,” Wagner said. “Younger voters use considerably more resources because not only do you have to persuade them, but you have to persuade them to turn out to some degree and that’s very resource dependent.”

Steindl said she plans on voting again in the November elections.

“I feel like I’m going to make history for myself,” Steindl said. ” I feel like this is my year to really step up and be a voter.”

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