Today is Election Day, or the final day of voting in what, thanks to a handful of candidates, has been one of the more sordid primaries in Flagler County history. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Unlike during early voting, you are required to vote at your assigned precinct. Check your precinct location here.
See a sample ballot here.
It is too late to vote by mail: your ballot will not be delivered by 7 p.m. tonight, as it must be, to be counted (it’s not about the postmark). But you may still drop your ballot at the Supervisor of Elections Office’s drop-box, outside the SEO’s doors. Due to restrictions imposed by the GOP-led legislature, it is the only drop box in the county, and is accessible today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for receipt of voted mail ballots.
The ballot drop box at the Elections Office was monitored by a staff member beginning 60 days prior to the election, through Election Day. You may track your ballot here.
Flagler has almost 95,000 registered voters–45 percent of them registered Republican, 28 percent of them Democratic, and 27 percent independent, or registered with minor parties.
So far, just under 22,000 voters have cast ballots, for a turnout of 23.25 percent. Of those, 65 percent, or 14,231, did so by mail, and 35 percent, or 7,698, during early voting.
So far Democrats represent 38 percent of the voting total, Republicans represent 49 percent, and others 12 percent.
How does that compare with the 2018 primary: That year, 7,691 people voted by mail, 7,249 voted early, and 9,448 people voted on Election day. The primary turnout in Flagler by the end of Election Day was 29.9 percent, compared to 27.5 percent statewide: most people simply do not vote in primaries, and compared to other democracies, turnout even in general elections is dismal in the United States, reflecting a disengaged, disenchanted or misinformed voter.
Misinformation and outright lies have been especially rife in Flagler during this election cycle, with a political action committee supporting inveterate liars such as Joe Mullins, the county commissioner seeking re-election, falsely portraying his opponent, Leann Pennington, as a Democrat, though she’s of course a lifelong Republican running in the Republican primary against Mullins.
Mullins has been embattled, with various scandals merely in the last few months adding to a long, sordid record of his four years on the commission, from repeatedly disrespecting law enforcement, threatening the job of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who pulled him over for speeding, claiming poverty, or lying about the support of local associations of retired cops. Mullins’s scandals have drawn international attention. He’s been no less disrespectful to other first responders: Jerry Forte, the Palm Coast fire chief, called him a ‘Wrecking Ball’ who “disgraces the hard working men and women of Flagler County Fire Rescue.”
Still, Mullins–who told a judge he could not afford the $5,000-a-month support payments to his wife, with whom he is in divorce proceedings–lent himself $87,000 so far, according to his latest campaign finance disclosure, to fight off Pennington, with more expected to show in subsequent disclosure forms. He has comparatively minimal local support. The figures don’t include political action committee funding.
While only registered Republicans get to vote in the Mullins-Pennington race, a closed primary (the winner faces independent Jane Gentile-Youd), all voters, regardless of registration, get to vote in the other primary for the county commission, because the that one will be decided today. It features incumbent Greg Hansen, Janet McDonald, who is leaving her school board seat, and Denise Calderwood. Compared to the way Mullins muddied his race and his opponent, the Hansen-McDonald-Calderwood race has been far less acid-ridden.
Not so in the races for school board, three of whose candidates–incumbent Jill Woolbright, lately of “satanic warfare” fame, Will Furry and Christy Chong ran as a pack and often appeared as a pack, while PACs supporting them issued scabrous against their opponents (Sally Hunt, Courtney VandeBunte and incumbent Trevor Tucker). The mailers portray Tucker as a liberal, though he is one of this county’s longest-standing Republican and most traditional conservatives, and portray all three as “wanted” criminals, which of course they are not.
A little over a week ago all three candidates–Woolbright, Furry and Chong–appeared on stage at Parkview Church in Palm Coast, where the pastor, Greg Peters, explicitly endorsed them while making light of his possibly getting “fired” for violating the law that bars tax-exempt churches from making endorsements. None of the three candidates objected, of course, though they are running on claims of moral purity. Woolbright the same weekend said she appeared at two other churches, and at one of them intoned against the “evil spirits” that surround her at the school district. (See: “School Board’s Jill Woolbright Says She’s in ‘Satanic Warfare’ Against ‘Evil Spirits’ at School District.”)
All registered voters get to cast a ballot for the three school board races, which are ostensibly non-partisan.
The same goes for the one Palm Coast City Council race on the ballot, featuring Theresa Carli Pontieri, Sims Jones, Shauna Kanter and Alan Lowe. Surprisingly, that race has been calm, at least relative to some of the other races. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters go on to a November run-off, when there will also be another council race on the ballot.
All other election-procedure related inquiries can be answered at the Elections Office’s website.
Statewide, according to the News Service of Florida, more than 2.1 million Floridians have voted by mail or at early-voting sites ahead of today’s elections.
As of Monday morning, about 1.54 million people had voted by mail, while nearly 594,000 had cast ballots at early-voting sites, according to the state Division of Elections website. Those totals did not include updated numbers Monday from Broward and Duval counties.
Democrats have outpaced Republicans in voting by mail, while members of the GOP voted more often at early-voting sites. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said the Covid pandemic led to record numbers of people voting by mail in 2020. He said many Floridians have continued to use that option, but larger crowds are again expected Tuesday at the polls.
“The shift was from people that had normally voted early,” Earley said. “It looks like they shifted over to the vote-by-mail. But when you add them up, they still come out to the same volume of voters we usually see before Election Day, when you take 2020 out of the mix.” Earley expects final turnout for the primary elections to reach about 35 percent.
The Live Interviews:
• Joe Mullins Declares Himself and His Companies ‘Insolvent,’ ‘Riddled with Debt’ and ‘Potentially Bankrupt’
• Joe Mullins Falsely Claims 2 Associations of Retired Cops Support Him, Drawing Sharp Disavowals
• ‘I Run the County,’ Commissioner Joe Mullins Tells FHP; A Trooper Calls Him ‘Belligerent’ and ‘Disrespectful’
• ‘If You Get Out of This Car You’re Going to Jail,’ Troopers Warned Joe Mullins in Confrontational Stop
• Palm Coast Fire Chief on Joe Mullins: a ‘Wrecking Ball’ who ‘Disgraces the Hard Working Men and Women of Flagler County Fire Rescue’
• Renner Embraces Anti-‘Woke’ Rhetoric and DeSantis Sees Red
• DeSantis Calls on ‘Moms for Liberty’ at National Summit to Fight ‘Leftist’ Agenda
• Flagler County Judge Totten Elected Without Opposition
• Jill Woolbright Wants 4 Books Banned Over Anti-Racism, LGBTQ, Police Violence and Rape Themes
• School Board’s Woolbright Objects to Citing “Hate Groups” in Statement
Denouncing Hate, and Blames “All Groups”
• To Janet McDonald, Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Belong in School