Monday, May 20

Election officials preparing for low voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary

While election supervisors across WPTVs five-county viewing area said voters arent as enthusiastic as they have been in past election cycles, some data ahead of Tuesdays primary suggests voters are just as engaged this year, if not more. Theyre just not engaging in person.

Friday morning, voters trickled in and out of the library in Palm Beach Gardens. The library is one of 26 early voting locations in Palm Beach County and one of the busiest, according to the Supervisor of Elections office.

In 2020, there was a little bit more excitement, because you had both the Democratic presidential preference primary and the Republican presidential preference primary, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link said.

This year, there is no Democratic presidential primary in Florida. President Joe Biden has been awarded all of the partys delegates in the state and clinched the nomination following Georgias primary on Tuesday. Former president Donald Trump, the only remaining candidate on the Republican side, clinched his partys nomination this week as well.

In Palm Beach County, just over 11% of eligible voters have cast a ballot in this primary so far, short of the 13.6% who took advantage of early and mail-in voting in the 2020 primary, and the 12.5% who did so in 2016.

While some voters, like Cindy Dedick, said theyre still adamant about voting in the presidential primary.

You cant complain if you dont vote, she told WPTV after she cast her ballot.

The turnout in Palm Beach Gardens was also driven by municipal races, including an annexation measure.

Local government is where the rubber hits the road, right? It really affects us more than people understand, Ramona Bean said, as she left the library.

However, not all counties have municipal races.

We have told our election workers bring something for you to read during the day, because we don’t think that there’s going to be a very big turnout [Tuesday], Indian River County Supervisor of Elections Leslie Swan said. There is not a single candidate sign at any of our early voting sites. I haven’t seen a single advertisement in print media. I haven’t heard anything on the radio.

The data doesnt necessarily reflect that lack of enthusiasm, as Swan said mail-in voting numbers have been strong.

Overall, 12.7% of eligible voters in Indian River County cast a ballot early or by mail in the 2016 primary, 8.9% percent did so in 2020, and early voting data shows a 15.5% turnout so far in 2024.

Thats mostly from mail-in ballots.

Swan attributes the trend to more choices for the Republican presidential nomination at the time voters had to request a mail-in ballot.

“Our overseas military ballots went out 45 days before the election, and the civilian ballots went out 40 days before the election. And at that point, Nikki Haley was still in the race, Swan said. “Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamythey had just suspended their campaign just a couple of weeks before.

On Wednesday, the day after both party nominations were clinched, Swan said about two-thirds of the mail-in ballots requested had been returned. None arrived that day.

Mail-in voting has also proved to be popular option in St. Lucie County, where just over 12% of eligible voters have turned out so far, about two-thirds of whom by mail.

Okeechobee County turnout is so far on par with 2020’s totals, but less than 2016s.

Martin County has the lowest turnout of all five counties so farjust over 6%, which is less than the countys early voting total in 2016, not including mail-in ballots.

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