Though powered by the largest vote-by-mail volume in the county’s history, Flagler County’s 2020 primary election turnout would need a relatively strong in-person voting tally today to exceed 2018’s turnout of 30 percent. The 2016 primary turnout of 27 percent is a closer target.
“I’m waiting for the election day voters to surprise us today,” Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart said this morning.
Two hours into the last day of voting Tuesday, 22,000 ballots had been cast–25 percent of registered voters–including nearly 16,000 mail-in ballots and 5,546 early voting ballots. Mail ballots account for an astounding 73 percent of all ballots cast, and 18 percent of all eligible voters. That proportion will fall as in-person voting numbers rise today, but it is certain to remain extremely high, especially in comparison with previous elections.
The vote-by-mail total is not complete: Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart said this morning that ballots are continuing to come in as voters drop them off at the elections office or in boxes outside the office, and additional pick-ups from the Post Office are scheduled through 7 p.m., the deadline for mailed-in ballots. (Lenhart reminded voters: mail-in ballots today may not be dropped off at individual precincts. The ballots must be dropped off at the elections office in Bunnell by 7 p.m. to be counted.)
“Our early voting turnout was half of what we normally see,” Lenhart said. “I would say it’s the coronavirus, people are voting by mail instead of in person.”
In 2018, a total of 7,691 people voted by mail (the total includes absentee ballots). That was 9.4 percent of eligible voters and 31.5 percent of all ballots cast. Early voting accounted for nearly 30 percent of all ballots cast. In 2016, 32 percent of ballots were mailed-in, representing 11.5 percent of all eligible voters, and 36 percent of total votes cast were in early voting (9.9 percent of eligible voters).
For the 2020 primary turnout to exceed that of 2018, at least 5,000 people must vote in person today, or around half the total that did so in the last primary. In 2018, 9,448 voters cast a ballot on Election Day, and in 2016, just 6,581 did, but that was without the coronavirus factor.
In the first two hours of polling today, ballots were being cast at 24 precincts at a rate of 280 an hour–not the kind of rate that will exceed the 2018 turnout.
The primary will decide several races, including at least two races for school board, two races for the judicial bench and one race for the Flagler County Commission. Several other races, including all three races for the Palm Coast City Council, feature more than two candidates each and so may require a run-off in November, depending on the margins of victory for the top vote-getter (anything less than 50 percent would require a run-off between the top two vote-getters). There are no state or federal races on the ballot.
Though Republicans have a more-than-10,000 voter advantage in the county, Democrats had a strong showing in ballots cast before today, accounting for 42.8 percent of ballots cast, compared to Republicans’ 44.3 percent, and independents accounting for 12.3 percent. Among m ail-in ballots alone, Democrats had a clear advantage: 48.6 percent to Republicans’ 36.8 percent, a sharp reversal from two years ago,
when Republicans accounted for 51.7 percent of mail-in ballots, to Democrats’ 37 percent. President Trump, a Republican, has been discrediting the reliability of mail-in ballots, making baseless claims that it’s “inaccurate & fraudulent.” His claim are clearly affecting Republican turnout locally.
So far today, Republicans were outnumbering Democrats at the polls by a more-than 2-to-1 margin, and were almost certain to build on what, until then, had been a very slight overall advantage of 9,880 votes to Democrats’ 9,421.
Lenhart said her office received mostly positive feedback about the set-up of election machines, with distancing and sanitary precautions observed. She does not expect delays or issues with the Post Office, with whose postmaster general she maintains close contact. But looking ahead to the general election in November, Lenhart said she’ll have to step up her messaging to voters to ensure that those voting by mail actually mail in their ballot at least a week to 10 days before Election Day.
The following is the elections office’s guidance for today’s in-person voting.
Early Voting has ended. You must vote in your assigned Election Day precinct on Tuesday, August 18.
Your assigned precinct can be found on your Voter Information Card, or use our Precinct Finder to look up your precinct online.
What you should do:
- If you have moved recently, update your address before you vote. Call (386) 313-4170 to change your address.
- Bring a valid form of photo and signature ID with you.
- Use the Sample Ballot to make your choices and bring it with you to the polls.
- Bring your own black ballpoint pen to use on your official ballot if you do not feel comfortable using the pen provided at your polling location.
- Bring a face covering and wear it during your voting experience, unless you are unable to do so because of a health condition.
- Limit conversation and be patient while waiting in line and also inside the polling room.
What we will do:
- Provide a clean polling room by routinely disinfecting touched surfaces such as equipment and voting booths.
- Provide hand sanitizer for all voters and election workers.
- Provide personal protective equipment for all election workers.
- Provide a single-use stylus for voters to use when signing the signature pad.
- Encourage social distancing.
Real time election turnout shows totals by method and party for mail ballots, early voting and Election Day: 2020 Primary Election Turnout