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With Fewer Days and Places to Vote, Early Voting Falls Significantly in Flagler

| November 5, 2012

The lines were persistent at the Supervisor of Elections’ voting location during the eight days of early voting in Flagler County, but turnout far short of that in 2008. (© FlaglerLive)

What voter enthusiasm?

The eight days of early voting in Flagler County were marked by long lines at the two locations where early voting was offered–the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast and the supervisor of elections’ office at the Government Services Building in Bunnell. But compared to the outpouring of voters in 2008, the lines were deceiving: when the numbers were tallied, early voting had fallen significantly in Flagler County, in actual numbers and as a proportion of registered voters, when compared with 2008.

There are almost 7,000 more registered voters in Flagler County than in 2008, a 12 percent increase. Yet 2,552 fewer people cast a ballot in early voting, not counting absentee ballots. Proportionally, 36.6 percent of voters cast in-person early voting ballots in 2008, but only 28.9 percent did this year.

There’s been an early-voting decline across Florida. But it was more pronounced in Flagler County. In Florida, 23.3 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in early voting in 2008. That was down to 20.4 percent this year.

Two factors contributed to the decline, and a third very likely did: First, the Florida Legislature cut back early voting days, from 14 to a maximum of eight. That lengthened lines and reduced opportunities to vote for many.

Second, Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks eliminated one of the the county’s three early voting locations: the Flagler Beach City Hall, which was popular among Flagler Beach, Beverly Beach and Hammock residents. (The number of precincts county-wide was also reduced from 38 to 22, in part to save money, in part because, Weeks said, early voting has reduced the need for that many precincts.)

Third, voter turnout of 58.2 percent in the 2008 election, pitting Barack Obama against John McCain, struck a 40-year high. The previous high was the 1968 election, between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, that drew a 60.8 percent turnout. With Democrats far less enthused about Obama this year, and Republicans enthused, but not enthralled, with Mitt Romney, most analysts predict a lower turnout than in 2008.

The bottom line for voters on Election Day (Nov. 6) is that lines at polling places in Flagler County are expected to be shorter than during early voting, particularly since, in all, 43 percent of local voters have already cast a ballot, when absentees are included.

Some 1,700 more people actually filled out absentee ballots than in 2008, a healthy 18 percent increase. But the increase is much smaller (just 1.1 percent) when compared, proportionately, to the share of the voting population that cast absentee ballots in 2008: 12.9 percent percent did so back then, as opposed to 14 percent this year.

Overall, when combining early voting and absentee voting, 29,565 Flagler County voters cast a ballot before Election Day (out of 68,933 registered voters), or 42.9 percent. In 2008, 30,406 voters cast ballots, or 49.5 percent of the registered electorate.

Overall, 30.6 million Americans have already voted across the country, with some early voting and absentee ballots still to be tallied. In Florida, 4.5 million voters have cast a ballot, with Democrats holding a small edge over Republicans (of 167,000 ballots, well below the 2008 edge). When looking at just absentee ballots, Republicans hold a 79,000 ballot edge.

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16 Responses for “With Fewer Days and Places to Vote, Early Voting Falls Significantly in Flagler”

  1. JL says:

    I wouldn’t go assuming that just because this Republican voted already (via absentee ballot) that I voted Republican. I most certainly did not!

  2. Clint says:

    Everyone , please VOTE tomorrow . This country will be affected for the next 40 years depending who gets in. This election will affected your children and grandchildren future.

    Take the time and extra effort and get to your polling precinct . VOTE, its your AMERICAN RIGHT !!!!!!!
    Don’t take anything for granted…Its your COUNTRY….Your CHOICE !!!!!!!!

  3. Initialjoe says:

    Apathy will be the undoing of America…not a Democrat or a Republican…just plain apathy.

  4. Nancy N. says:

    I had to go to the library twice before I was able to find a parking spot to vote last week. I guarantee some people weren’t that persistent about casting their ballot. Chalk another voter suppression victory up for Gov. Skeletor.

  5. PJ says:

    Once again Weeks mis-judges her job in this case the number of voting poles.

    This is a national election not the Moyoral run for Palm Coast. You would have figured that there would be at least one other location to handle the crowds.

    Another reason why the Elections board needs to change too……………….

    • Nancy N. says:

      Ms Weeks isn’t entirely to blame for the lack of locations. The voter suppression police (aka the FL legislature) rewrote the guidelines for what is a legal early voting location, leaving Ms Weeks without a lot of options.

  6. Alex says:

    Number of location is one issue to consider. The other is the number of machines in each location. The above article failed to consider the second point.

  7. Billybob says:

    Even the voting process itself caters to the retired and unemployed.

  8. BW says:

    Cutting out Flagler Beach was not a good decision.

  9. DWFerg says:

    Voting is both a right and a privilege—Early voting is an exaggeration of convenience—You only need 1-3 extra days to vote due to circumstances–Absentee balloting is also readily available—To blame turnout on fewer locations and days is to misrepresent the TRUTH—People are Not voting for Obama like they did in ’08—- No one wants to vote for a losing candidate

  10. Sea dog says:

    Its part of Republican Partys plan according to a dispostion given by former Republican Party Chairman to disfranchise blacks.

  11. Dadgum says:

    I think the reason for the big change from ’08 to present had a lot to do with our economy which dramatically changed the population as did the country. The big economy and mortgage bust was looming over Flagler County which took a big hit and still is.

    Thank you Flagler Live for the statistical crunch you do so well. Now, Get out and Vote! I did yesterday at the Supervisor of Elections and only one person in Front of me.

  12. Dorothea says:


    According to state statute, early voting is limited to the Supervisor of Elections office or to libraries and city halls. The room at the library was small, stuffy, hot, and also crammed with voting machines.

    “Early voting begins 10 days before an election and ends on the 3rd day before any election in which there is a state or federal office race. Early voting may be held for a maximum of 12 hours, but no less than 6 hours, a day. The hours for each day for each early voting site during that period are set at the Supervisor’s discretion. Supervisors of Elections designate early voting sites 30 days prior to an election. Early voting is held in the main or branch office of the Supervisor of Elections. Supervisors may also designate any city hall or public library geographically located so that all voters in the county will have an equal opportunity to cast a vote.”

  13. Stevie says:

    This must be a new approach to “getting along” So it begins.

  14. Anon says:

    There can be an argument made that Rick Scott did his job as an operative of the Republican party.

    Based on the data in this article the vote has been successfully suppressed.

    Let them pat themselves on the back. They have discouraged potential voters from casting their votes.

    Yet they will preach the virtues of democracy to all non democratic countries around the world.

    I even sent an email to Rick Scott congratulating him.

  15. Lonewolf says:

    looks like the GOP managed to disenfranchise many voters this year. They’re the party that claims to be so patriotic yet wants to prevent as many voters as they can from voting. Is this what people fought and died for in this country?

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