BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Despite the rise of coronavirus cases, the Florida Preferential Primary Election went as planned on Tuesday.
In the primary, Florida voters chose former Vice President Joe Biden over Senator Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ticket. Biden took 62 percent of the vote compared to Sanders’ 23 percent. Biden received 1,075,089 votes to Sanders’ 396,248.
In Volusia County, Biden (58 percent) also held a big advantage over Sanders (22 percent). That’s 26,084 votes for Biden to 9,798 for Sanders.
Trump wins big
Trump dominated the Florida Republican ticket with 94 percent of the primary vote. Trump got more than 1.1 million votes; his four challengers all got less than 40,000 in Florida.
He also had a big lead in Volusia County with 94 percent of the ballot, which tallied 33,756 votes.
Trump also had a big night securing the Republican Party nomination; he has 1,331 delegates, well over the 1,276 needed.
31 percent voted
Turnout was low locally with just 31 percent of Volusia County voters participated in the primary. That is more than 263,000 voters out of 414,000 registered voters in the county.
The coronavirus could have played a role in the turnout.
“Very low turnout was the real issue, especially with the coronavirus. It scared people. We have to prepare ourselves. We don’t know how long it will be. Maybe vote by mail can help with the primary and general election,” commented Cynthia Slater, president of the Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP.
Volusia County Democratic Black Caucus President Joan Lane responded, “I’m not sure about the low turnout. Maybe the virus did keep voters home. I think numbers will be higher in the general election. People don’t understand how important these earlier elections are.”
The Supervisor of Elections Office did take measures to sanitize the precincts.
Measures taken included:Encouraging voters to bring their own pens or do absentee ballots
Being able to designate a person to pick up and drop off absentee ballots
Having hand sanitizer stations and additional cleaning supplies at precincts and early voting sites
Having employees continually wipe down polling stations at precincts and early voting locations and changed three precincts.
The precincts changes were:
Precinct 212 – moved from the Good Samaritan Society-Florida Lutheran to the Wayne G Sanborn Activities Center at 815 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand;
Precinct 303 – moved from the John Knox Village Barker Center to United Methodist Church in Orange City
Precinct 626 – moved from the Windsor Apartments to the City Island Regional Library at Magnolia Ave. in Daytona Beach.
According the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections website volusiaelections.org, there are more than 415,000 registered voters in the county.
More than 40,000 of those are inactive voters, meaning the office couldn’t contact them but they were still eligible to vote.
Only 263,000 voters voted, including more than 137,000 Republicans and 125,000-plus Democrats.
More than 11,000 voters participated in early voting, from March 7-14, and almost 46,000 people cast absentee ballots.
No major issues
No major problems were reported during the primary.
“I think things went smoothly; we didn’t hear of any problems,” responded Lane.
Slater added, “We had very few irregularities. It was mainly us hearing of people not being registered for that party or having no party affiliation trying to vote.”
Florida has closed primaries, meaning in order to vote for a candidate you had to be a member of that political party.
For example, only Republicans could vote Trump and only Democrats could vote for Biden or Sanders.
“We must continue to educate everyone on the electoral process so that they have the right information when they get to the polls and are well informed,” stressed Slater.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.