The Florida Legislature’s attempts to discourage voting by mail may not be taking hold in Flagler County.
On just the third day of mail balloting, and with 13 days to go before Election Day on Aug. 23–and three days before early voting begins–the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections had tabulated almost 9,000 ballots turned in by mail or at its lone, now ostensibly “monitored” drop-box in Bunnell, exceeding by 1,150 the total number of ballots mailed in during the 2018 primary election cycle, the last off-year election.
That year, 7,691 people voted by mail, 7,249 voted early, and 9,448 people voted on Election day.
The surge in mail-in ballots does not mean that overall turnout will be significantly higher than it has been historically. Turnout in off-year elections is lower than in presidential years. But in primaries, turnout is always dismally low. In Flagler in 2018, the primary turnout was 29.9 percent, and 27.5 percent statewide. (The ballots cast so far amount to a turnout of 9.5 percent.) The 2020 primary election turnout was not that much better: 30.5 percent in Flagler, 28.2 percent across the state.
The 2020 primary turnout was that low despite a surge in mail-in votes. That year, 61 percent of all ballots were turned in by mail, up from 32 percent in the 2016 primary, when early voting was the most popular option, accounting for 36 percent of ballots cast. Just 31 percent of voters cast a ballot on Election Day. That proportion would fall to 26 percent in that November’s election, underscoring to what extent Election Day then and since has increasingly become a footnote to Election Weeks, with mail-in balloting starting weeks ahead of Election Day. That kind of timing is lessening the impact of late electioneering, such as candidates’ mailings in the final two or three weeks of the election season, when such mailings flood mailboxes and often carry the most negative messages.
The first vote by mail was received by the supervisor on July 7, but the numbers started picking up after July 19, when balloting reached triple-digits every day and grew from there.
In Florida, 930,000 people had cast ballots by mail as of mid-afternoon today, with Democrats holding a 46 percent to 38 percent advantage over Republicans at this stage, though Republicans now outnumber Democrats by 200,000 voters in registrations across the state.
In Flagler, Democrats were outpolling Republicans by about three dozen votes, in a county where Republicans hold a 45 to 28 percent advantage in registrations. Independents account for 25 percent of the county’s registered voters, and have been gaining on Democrats.
Early Voting begins Saturday in Flagler County. It will be available only for eight days.
Any voter registered in Flagler County may vote at any one of the four locations regardless of the voter’s precinct: at the Supervisor of elections’ office, at the public library on Palm Coast Parkway, at the Palm Coast Community Center, and for the first time on the barrier island, at Flagler Beach United Methodist Church (1520 S Daytona Ave, Flagler Beach).
Florida legislators sought to ban the use of drop boxes altogether in 2021, as an early version of that bill stated. But the final version of the bill allowed drop boxes–with severe limits. Drop boxes could only be located at the Supervisor of Elections’ office or branch offices, and operated only during regular business hours–and only with a “guard” posted at each box. Drop boxes could also be located at early voting sites, but with the same requirements. The supervisor is prohibited from moving the drop box after designating its location without approval from the state. The supervisor could be subject to a $25,000 fine if a drop box was left unattended during operational hours. The new law also restricts how and when voters may request mail-in ballots.
Still, while the 2021 law added restrictions, Florida’s vote-by-mail provisions remain among the most permissive in the state. Florida law also requires a minimum of eight days of early voting. Some counties offer up to two weeks. But those tend to be Democratic-led counties. Only two of the 31 elected officials among Flagler’s constitutional officers or on its major elected boards–the County Commission, Palm Coast, Bunnell, Flagler Beach and the school board–are Democrats. Proportionately, 6 percent. The proportion rises by another two if the East Flagler Mosquito Control board is included.
|To vote: see a sample ballot here. Early voting is between Aug. 13 and Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at four sites in the county, listed here. You may vote early at any of the four sites regardless of your precinct location. To vote by mail, request your mail-in ballot here. Because of the Legislature's new law, restricting voting convenience, drop boxes are available, but only to a limited degree. The ballot drop box at the Elections Office will be monitored by a staff member beginning 60 days prior to the election, through Election Day. This drop box will no longer be available after office hours or on weekends, except during the early voting period. Other drop boxes will be available at early voting locations, but only during the days of early voting, and only during voting hours. Mail ballots must be received in the Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. If returning your ballot by mail, please allow at least ten days for delivery. A postmark does not extend this deadline. You may track your ballot here. All other election-procedure related inquiries can be answered at the Elections Office's website.
And the winner is… Joe Mullins by a landslide. ;-)
Ferrari Joe, you mean.
Rick Belhumeur says
Your vote can make a difference. Please vote for your candidate by mail, early voting or on Election Day. Don’t assume any election results. Please play your part in the process by Voting!
Nothing is better than knocking the Repubs in the face and kicking them hard in the behind. Come on Dems let us vote the No Good Repubs out of office. We can do this I know we can.
ULTRA MAGA says
Flaglerlive should an investigation of Senator Travis Hutson Bill 736 which appears to be a CONFLICT of INTEREST since Hutson’s Family Business( he is an employee) in Building 16,000 homes in St John’s County! Bill 736 SCREWS new home owners by changing the 10 yr to 5yr time period in which a new home owner can bring legal action against at builder/developer for defective/out of code construction on their new home! I my life have been at WAR against Conflict of Interest and CORRUPTION! In my former state I was a member of a Planning Commission!
Keeping coming in. We need to get rid of Mullins and Hutson now!