Polls opened today for the final day of the 2022 election, with nearly 42,000 votes already cast by mail or in early voting in Flagler County.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. That’s also the deadline for turning in ballots by mail or at drop-boxes. Voters must cast ballots at their specified precincts. There are 21 precincts in the county. You can look up your precinct here.
The mid-terms feature elections for one of Florida’s U.S. Senate seats, congress, the governorship, the Florida Cabinet and whether retain 11 appellate judges. The ballot also includes three constitutional amendment proposals. Locally, the choices are limited to a few remaining races–for school board, county commission and Palm Coast City Council. Voters will also be asked whether to renew the school district’s half-cent sales surtax, in effect for two decades.
Monday evening Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart took heart from the fact that Flagler County ranked second in the state with the highest turnout among 67 counties in pre-Election Day voting. Before today, 43.7 percent of registered voters had cast a ballot. The county needs a turnout of better than 21,000 people today to exceed the 2018 turnout of 64.55 percent. That may be a tall order.
In 2018, only 19 percent of registered voters chose to vote in person on Election Day, for a total of 15,690 ballots cats (29 percent of all ballots cast). By then, 28 percent of registered voters had voted 18 percent by mail, for a total of 37,637 ballots cast ahead of Election day (46 percent of registered voters.
By those measures, turnout is actually down this year, with 44 percent of eligible voters casting ballots before Election Day.
There are 12,695 more registered voters today than there were in 2018. To match the 2018 turnout, at total of 61,520 votes must be cast. That means at least 19,844 ballots must be cast today, or an average of 1,624 per hour. It also means an Election Day turnout of 21 percent, two points better than in 2018, and equal to the rate in 2014. Approaching Subtropical Storm Nicole may not be helping. After the first 90 minutes of voting this morning, the rate of ballots cast appeared to be around the 1,500 ballots per hour.
Still, overall turnout has been trending up even in off-year elections, when voters are less enthused. In 2014, Flagler’s turnout was 53.4, Florida’s turnout was 51 percent, and the nation’s was a paltry 36.7 percent. In 2018, Flagler’s turnout was 64.55 percent, with 53,327 ballots cast out of 82,611 registered. The national turnout rate in 2018 was 50 percent.
Republicans have cast ballots at a rate 1.7 times that of Democrats, in a county where Republicans hold a 45 to 27 percent edge in registrations, over Democrats. Independents and small-party registrants nearly match the total of Democrats–26,000. Even combining Democrats, independents and small party registrants, Republicans maintain an edge in ballots cast of over 1,000. Election Day voting has heavily favored Republicans in the last two election cycles.