It’s Election Day in Florida and voters are heading to the polls to cast their ballots in primary and nonpartisan local and statewide races.
Democrat Rebekah Jones will face U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz in the battle for Florida’s 1st congressional district race, according to early results.
Jones defeated Peggy Schiller, who unsuccessfully tried to have Jones removed from the primary ballot, alleging that Jones had been registered “unaffiliated” for a crucial two-month period while Jones was living in Maryland.
U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz on Tuesday fended off a well-funded challenge to win the congressional district’s 1st GOP primary race for the U.S. House, according to unofficial early results from the AP.
His Democratic opponent in the legislative elections on November 8 is not yet official. Gaetz beat newcomer Mark Lombardo, as well as Greg Merk.
Shelly Darr rode to the parking lot of Christ’s Episcopal Church in Pensacola on her bicycle on Tuesday afternoon, thrilled to have the chance to vote in the primaries.
Darr works at Safe Families for Children, a non-profit organization that keeps families together through crisis, homelessness and adoption. She had been planning to vote for a while and when she heard from a friend that today was Friend’s Day, she hopped on her bike to help bring change to the communities she dessert.
Darr said she considers it her civic duty to help anyone she can stay afloat if she sees them in trouble. For her, that duty includes voting for the people who will help families stay together in these difficult times. She noted that many candidates are creating laws that matter to struggling families.
“My heart is in voting for people who are truly committed to working and helping to reduce poverty, reduce incarceration rates for people for non-violent crimes, give back to the community and lower rents” , Darr said.
Frances Miller, a voter who moved to Pensacola in 1979 from Mississippi, said she always knew the importance of voting. She has been an advocate for the importance of voting since she was in high school and has been involved in voting her entire adult life.
Miller said she went to hear local candidates for the judge and city council races speak and even had a few in her house, which made her change her mind about who she wanted vote. Miller lives near the Belmont-Devilliers area and wanted to vote for people who would help women and minorities, groups she says are typically ignored in the city.
“One of my great things about voting is just giving people in the South an equal voice,” Miller said. “Giving an equal voice is so important, and so those (who give everyone an equal voice) are the people I voted for.”
Santa Rosa County Elections Supervisor Tappie Villane said as of 1 p.m. there were no serious problems with voting in the primary election.
“We’re pretty much in line with other midterm primaries,” she told the News Journal.
Currently, the participation rate is just over 18%. In the 2020 and 2018 primaries, final turnout edged closer to the 25 and 26 percent thresholds, and Villane said she expects this year to be similar to turnout before.
She said the next peak in crowds at the polls would come after the children had left school and at the end of the working day, but she warned that if the rain came and the weather turned “bad” it would could play a role in participation.
When polls opened Tuesday in Escambia County, about 31,083 people had voted in advance or by mail, bringing the turnout to 14.07 percent. As lunchtime approached, another 10,500 people had voted, bringing the turnout to 18.79%.
Escambia Elections Supervisor David Stafford told the News Journal on Monday that he expected turnout to hit the high 20% range when polls close at 7 p.m.
Stafford said some locations have changed from previous elections, so voters should double-check where they are registered to vote.
“The first election after the redistricting that followed the 2020 census,” Stafford said. “So for a number of voters, their constituencies changed, which means the constituencies could have changed, which means the polling stations could have changed.”
Stafford’s office sent new voting cards to all registered voters this year with updated polling locations as well as sample ballots containing a QR code that people could scan with their smartphones that would display a direction Google Maps to their polling station.
As of Tuesday morning, no problems had been reported at the polls and Stafford said things were “going well”.
As of 11:15 a.m., the Bayview Community Center was the busiest polling center with 384 voters casting their ballots since 7 a.m. Pinewoods Presbyterian Church on 297A was also a busy location with 374 voters followed by Beulah Church on Mobile Highway with 310 voters.
In the Pensacola mayoral race, voters will choose between two longtime city council members and two political newcomers, after incumbent Mayor Grover Robinson chose not to run for office.
In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, competitions range from local school boards to the US Congress.
Four seats in the Florida Legislature are also up for grabs, one in the Senate and three in the House.
2022 primary election: Your Complete Guide to Races and Candidates Escambia, Santa Rosa
Election laws: What’s Changed in Florida’s Election Laws
School board battleground:DeSantis to tour Florida to tout conservative school board candidates
Voting places in Florida are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters who line up before 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
What kind of ID do I need to vote?
To vote in Florida, you must present a valid photo ID with signature. Here is what is accepted:
- Florida driver’s license
- Florida ID card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- American passport
- Debit or credit card
- Military ID
- Student ID
- Retreat Center ID
- Identification of the neighborhood association
- Identification of public assistance
- Veteran’s Medical Identification Card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- Permit to carry a concealed weapon or firearm issued under s. 790.06
- Employee identification card issued by any federal, state, county, or municipal branch, department, agency, or entity
According to the Florida Division of Elections, you can still vote on a provisional ballot if you don’t bring proper identification. As long as you are eligible and have voted in the correct precinct, your provisional ballot will count, provided the signature on your provisional ballot matches the signature on your registration record.
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