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Leon County reports low voter turnout in Presidential Preference Primary election

Posted at 11:17 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 23:17:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A global pandemic definitely didn't help voter turnout in Leon County, but the numbers still would have been less than the last election because of the type of election and rise in alternative ways to vote.

"No one was anticipating, when we were planning over a year ago, that there would be a virus pandemic at our front door," said Mark Earley, the Leon County Supervisor of Elections.

Many voters said the coronavirus wasn't enough to stop them from voting.

"I felt it was my duty to come out," said Shirley Collins-Washington.

Leon County provided hand sanitizer, wipes, and gloves for people ready to vote.

"I just brought myself," said Greg Bruce. "I washed my hands and everything before I left and then when I walked in, they had the hand sanitizers and everything for you inside."

Despite the best efforts to keep the polls sanitized, many locations saw a decline in numbers. One poll worker described a typically busy polling location as a "leaky faucet" with a steady trickle of voters, instead of a crowd.

While the coronavirus may have impacted those numbers, there are other reasons for the lower turnout.

"This year we have an incumbent republican president, so the turn out from the republican side isn't as high as you would have in a highly contested year," Earley said.

Earley also says early voting continues to grow throughout the state.

This year's Presidential Preference Primary saw close to 1,500 more early voters than the Presidential Preference Primary in 2016.

"If I want to help make my country better, then it's up to me to get out and show my vote," Collins-Washington said. "I think everybody in America nowadays. That's one right we've fought so hard for."

79,378 were cast in the Presidential Preference Primary four years ago.

A little less than 61,000 votes were cast this year.