If voters have been model citizens so far, and they have, a very small handful of candidates or party operatives, particularly in the Republican Party, have been a little less so: their actions have required the interventions of poll deputies, of Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart and of sheriff’s deputies.
As in Florida and the rest of the nation, Flagler County is seeing a surge of early voting and voting by mail in one of the most unusual–and unpredictable–election in memory. But Flagler would have to experience an even more unusually heavy turnout in the remaining days of the election, especially on Election Day, if the turnout records of the 2000s are to be broken.
The conflict reflects a deep split within Flagler County Republicans, some aligned with incumbent Mayor Milissa Holland, some with challenger Alan Lowe. Both are Republicans in a supposedly non-partisan race that has turned into the single-most partisan race in Flagler aside from the top of the ticket.
The efforts to boost turnout among Black voters — especially young Black men — come as recent polls show Biden and Trump deadlocked in Florida, a state with 29 electoral votes considered critical for a White House victory.
In April, election officials from a little over half of Florida’s counties signed a letter asking their secretary of state and attorney general to either take legal action against the Center for Voter Information or speak out publicly against its mailers, which the letter referred to as “a deceptive enterprise” that will “carpet bomb Floridians with more voter registration deception this month.”
The emails that several Flagler County Democrats, hundreds of Floridians and others across the country received today, threatening recipients to vote for Donald Trump or else, were the work of Iran, according to a federal investigation.
Republicans’ proportion of registered voters in Flagler County has grown to 45.7 percent this year, compared to 39.8 percent in 2016, while Democrats’ proportion has shrunk to 30.5 percent, from 31.8 percent four years ago.
Voters began lining up to vote more than three hours before early voting began today at the public library site, with lines growing to include hundreds of voters at each of the three sites in Palm Coast and Bunnell.
With supervisors encouraging Floridians to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of mail-in ballots has exploded. Due to uncertainty about the U.S. postal system, many voters are choosing to drop off their ballots rather than risk having them delivered too late to count. Florida mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Election Day to be counted.
Flagler County Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart on Saturday wrote county commissioners to ask for help in suspending construction at the GSB during election weeks after County Administrator Jerry Cameron responded to her personal pleas with contempt.