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Surge in Early Voting and Mailed Ballots in Flagler Mirrors Florida’s, Pointing to Strong Off-Year Turnout

| October 24, 2018

The Flagler Canvassing Board and election workers going through the 7,000-some mailed-in ballots that arrived today. It's a mid-term election, but the turnout numbers seem more like those of a general election. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler Canvassing Board and election workers going through the 7,000-some mailed-in ballots that arrived today. It’s a mid-term election, but the turnout numbers seem more like those of a general election. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Office was all beehives this morning, a reflection of an election that so far indicates turnout so heavy that it is on pace to shatter even 2016’s numbers–a presidential election year–at least for early voting and vote-by-mail ballots.


On one side of the office, the Canvassing Board and more than a dozen workers were going through just that morning’s delivery of 7,193 mailed-in ballots, the mail bins stacked up in racks six feet high. The office had mailed out nearly 19,000 ballots, which represents 23 percent of Flagler’s registered electorate. Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart expects to get 75 percent back.

“It was nothing like this,” Lenhart said of the general election in 2016. “This beats 2016. We sent more ballots for this than we did for the presidential.” In 2016, a total of 13,423 ballots were mailed in. If Lenhart’s expectation of a 75 percent return rate holds up, some 14,000 mail ballots will be sent in.

The numbers exceed those for 2014, the last off-year election, when just under 9,000 ballots were mailed in. In other words, just today, the canvassing board was going through almost as many mailed-in ballots in a single day as it did for the entire 2014 election. “So we’re already going to blow that, we’re way past that,” Lenhart said, noting the four trays of mail received this morning.

ballots mailed in

The mail bins. (© FlaglerLive)

There’s also early voting, which began on Monday in Flagler and much of Florida, running for 13 consecutive days. And so in a different part of the supervisor’s office, in the large room set up as a polling place, every single one of the two dozen-odd voting booths was occupied by a voter late this morning as more kept walking in steadily. On Monday and Tuesday, there’d been long lines, including long waits at the Flagler County Public Library on Palm Coast Parkway, another of the three locations. The third location is the Palm Coast Community Center on the parkway.

Flagler County ended day two of early voting with 4,220 ballots in. Combined with mailed-in ballots, that’s a turnout so far of nearly 14 percent. By late this afternoon, the early-voting tally was up to 6,000 ballots cast for a turnout approaching 16 percent.

“Early voting turnout has really been steady, and even though there’s a line, it’s moving. I think it’s because it’s one of the longest ballots we’ve ever had in the county, so that voters are taking a little bit more time in the voting booth than they normally would.” The office is limited on space, Lenhart said: even if 100 booths were put in, voters couldn’t be checked in fast enough to fill them. “So early voting has been pretty busy.”

Early-voting enthusiasm is mirrored across Florida and the nation where states have early voting. In 2014, a total of 20.5 million ballots were cast before Election Day nationwide, including 3.1 million in Florida. As of this afternoon, 9.6 million Americans had cast ballots, including 1.45 million Floridians, according to the University of Florida’s Michael McDonald, a professor of political science who studies elections and has maintained a website tallying early-voting numbers over past elections.

Early voters marked the occasion with a picture, (© FlaglerLive)

Early voters marked the occasion with a picture, (© FlaglerLive)

“If these patterns persist, we could see a turnout rate at least equaling the turnout rate in 1966, which was 48 percent, and if we beat that then you have to go all the way back to 1914, when the turnout rate was 51 percent,” McDonald told The New York Times Tuesday. “We could be looking at a turnout rate that virtually no one has ever experienced.”

As in past elections, more Republicans than Democrats are voting early: older voters tend to be Republican, and older voters tend to like voting early.

So far in Flagler, nearly half the ballots cast (49 percent) are by registered Republicans, well exceeding the 41 percent proportion of registered Republicans in the county. Just over 34 percent of ballots have been cast by Democrats, who represent 31 percent of the Flagler electorate: that’s an indication of a little more enthusiasm, but still nothing matching the GOP’s. Independents are the least interested: just 16.5 percent of ballots cast are by independents, even though they represent 28 percent of the electorate.

“More voters are engaged in the process,” Lenhart said. “I think people are excited about voting, they know we’ll have a new governor by the end of this, and there’s just so much going on politically in the world today. It’s hard to really attribute it to one or two things, it’s everything. Political activism is on the rise. Younger voters are more engaged. When I go to high schools, the students are so engaged and so smart. They have the best questions. They really are feeling like they’re part of the process as they turn 18, and they’re registering to vote. We can see this trend statewide that younger voters are registering, and hopefully they’ll turn out in this election.”

“The only glitches so far has been the long waits to vote, especially at the public library. “The ballot is long, so I just encourage voters to get their sample ballot, it’s on the website, flaglerelections.com, download that, take a look at it, if they haven’t gotten it in the mail already. And use that as a guide. Be ready when you go vote. You don;t want to see these amendments for the first time in the booth. There’s 12 of them statewide and three more for Palm Coast voters, so a total of 15.”

Still, it’s early to make predictions about final turnout. In 2014, Flagler’s turnout was 53.4, Florida’s turnout was 42.8 percent, and the nation’s was a paltry 36.7 percent. Election after election, early voting and voting by mail have claimed a growing proportion of all ballots cast, with less than a third of voters casting ballots on Election day proper. That proportion of Election Day voting may be slighter still this year.

Download a Sample Ballot: for All Flagler and City Voters (2018)

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25 Responses for “Surge in Early Voting and Mailed Ballots in Flagler Mirrors Florida’s, Pointing to Strong Off-Year Turnout”

  1. mausborn says:

    DeSantis truly is just like Trump. A liar and a moron. We in Florida have a current Gov running for the Senate that made millions from a golden parachute after being the CEO of a company that committed medicare fraud. We, in this country have a President that pockets our tax dollars every time he “weekends” at one of his resorts. Who profits every time a foreign dignitary stays in his hotels. We have cabinet member flying their spouses around on our dime. We have family members cutting private personal business deals with foreign governments for profit. Yet, DeSantis and the GOP wants to claim that a ticket to a play should disqualify a person. Have they lost their minds? Yes they have.

  2. Sherry says:

    VOTED BLUE TODAY! Even my husband who hasn’t voted for over 20 years registered and voted ALL BLUE today!

    I encourage all those who care about our country, about HONESTY, about ETHICS, about EQUALITY, about INTEGRITY to do the same.

    VOTE BLUE!

  3. gmath55 says:

    Looks like everybody voted red.

  4. Lou says:

    Blues with Reds will pay the price for our Red majority.

  5. gmath55 says:

    How childish is it to tell people how to vote! It’s like telling a child to eat the M&M’s but don’t touch the Hershey’s Kisses. Any intelligent person would do their own research and vote for whomever they want. LOL

  6. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    When are we going to judge candidates purely as individuals not as party groupies? God help us all if we continue to choose to be governed purely by either ‘red’ or ‘blue’. Nothing should matter more than the candidates credentials, their past, their realistic platform and their goals

    Neither door knocking marathons, number of free food festivals, nor ‘who has the most signs’ contest have anything to do with the ability of the candidate to handle the important responsibilities of the job they are seeking.

    Please google your candidates and issues before you vote. Contact them with your concerns( and don’t forget to ask how long it will take them to remove their signs after election day )……

  7. Dave says:

    Love this picture, all the blue color by the voters represents the blue wave that’s coming

  8. Willy Boy says:

    Making public any information concerning voting prior to the official close of voting is detrimental. People are too easily swayed by others perceived actions. Same goes for exit polls.

  9. Frank says:

    Please get out and vote. Also please google the candidates first and spend time doing so. We have some questionable people wanting office locally and state that want personal gain. Red or blue research the person. Just because they have money or more signs doesn’t make them the right choice. Please do your homework. We have candidates that only want to get closer to our precious treasury and spend in their favor.

  10. Agkistrodon says:

    Where’s the third member of the blue wave?…….

  11. mausborn says:

    Healthcare is one of the policy issues that’s important to Floridians. It was clear that DeSantis has no answers to their concerns. Gillum pointed out that his opponent was one of Trump’s strongest supporters in the failed Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare without a viable replacement.

  12. mausborn says:

    The Miami Herald has endorsed Gillum for governor. DeSantis is in the pocket of the NRA. Gillum is much smarter! Ron Desantis is SCARY. Floridians, the choice is clear.!

  13. PC Citizen says:

    VOTE RED

    MAGA

  14. Bc. says:

    So much for the blue wave the wave is just a trickle. The blue lost in 16 they will lose in 18 and in 20 so get ready to get on board with the winning party.

  15. The Truth says:

    Thank you to all that are going out an voting, this is so very important. I am appalled by Trumps rally’s across the country promoting violence, encouraging to punch reporters.

    Now, we have pipe bombs being mailed to Democrats and people that support them. This is not what our country is about. If Trump feels this is proper to show our children growing up to see how he behaves, this is horrible.
    And Trump has the nerve to say the Democrats are doing it and to make him look bad. If anyone out there believes this I feel sorry for you as sorry as I feel for him. And he is also blaming the press now too.
    He blames everyone for everything that he causes and does himself. If this it what the Republican party stands for and promotes, you don’t deserve anyone’s votes.

    I was brought up to love thy fellow man, to respect others as you want to be treated. I was brought up never to use the word hate, and never to feel that I was better then someone else. Those are the values I grew up with.

    It hurts me to see how since, Trump has come into office and my gut feelings say he only got into the oval office by cheating, which is another value I was told never to do, a long with never to lie. I was told that lies will always catch up with you.
    He obviously wasn’t raised as properly, as my parents raised me.

    Please go out an vote an think about when, your marking your ballot what kind of person do we want to stand for our country for now and for the future.

  16. Jeff says:

    Glad to see republicans coming out to keep that liar from Tallahassee from becoming governor.
    Make America Great Again!

  17. Mike Schottey says:

    How do you figure? Through three days, Republicans outnumber Democratic votes 7,223 (48%) to 5,143 (34%) out of 14,923. Thats not “everybody” by a longshot. In Flagler country, that’s a democratic turnout that should be worrying those who vote red.

  18. anonymous says:

    I voted all republicans all the way and I am proud of it.

  19. mausborn says:

    Russia if your listening Ratpublicans need your help! Gillum just convinced a whole lot of uncertain people. Ron really does not give you an exact answer he is just on defense mode, only thing he keep saying is “ I wore the uniform “ WHO CARES! What is the plan dude??? He sucks. I think DeSantis did a couple of lines before he came out on the debate stage. He look coked out.Desantis go crawl back under the filthy rock you voted to destroy ….. such a jerk

  20. hawkeye says:

    Voted republican all the way and no to all amendments

  21. Alphonse Abonte says:

    When Democrats scream that Trump is OUT OF CONTROL, what they really mean is, OUT OF THEIR CONTROL and that is what really drives them DEMENTED!

  22. gmath55 says:

    @ mausborn – 5 comments just on this page! Other pages many comments. I think everybody knows how you voted and feel. But, if it turns you on go ahead make another comment. LOL

  23. Nanny says:

    Who is giving out the flyers she came to my house calling out my niece name and she also has the address who is giving this information out she was not an election official and was not pleasant I need info you dont give stranger people names or addresses

  24. snapperhead says:

    “If these patterns persist, we could see a turnout rate at least equaling the turnout rate in 1966, which was 48 percent, and if we beat that then you have to go all the way back to 1914, when the turnout rate was 51 percent,” McDonald told The New York Times Tuesday. “We could be looking at a turnout rate that virtually no one has ever experienced.”

    How pathetic is that that a great turnout is 50%+/- of voters.

  25. jake says:

    @mausborn,

    ” He look coked out.Desantis go crawl back under the filthy rock you voted to destroy ….. such a jerk”

    Pot calling kettle black.

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