Party switches cause confusion for early voters

Early voting opened Monday in Duval County

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. – In an election that caused many people to change party affiliation in order to vote in the state attorney’s race and other closed primaries, some voters are facing confusion with sample and absentee ballots.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, 2,443 had cast ballots in early voting in Duval County, along with 20,646 vote-by-mail ballots.

VIEW: County-by-county early voting dates and locations

Some problems were reported at the San Marco early-voting location, which opened Monday for the start of Duval County early voting.

To avoid any problems, LaVonne Temple and her husband voted early downtown, joining others across the city in casting their ballots on the first day of early voting.

“That is why I am down here the first day. It is very important to me,” Temple said.

Bonnie Brady, a lifelong Democrat, voted Monday as a Republican. She said she switched parties to vote in the contentious state attorney’s race, which was closed to Democrats because a write-in candidate will appear in November.

She said even though she changed her party affiliation, she still received a Democratic sample ballot in the mail.

“It was confusing, and then I got the old sample ballot. The paperwork never came through for the new one, which is fine, because you can pull it up online,” Brady said.

Something similar happened to News4Jax reporter Jim Piggot. He switched parties and got a new voter registration card, but then received another card with his old registration in the mail, along with an incorrect sample ballot.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan said it's possible a sample ballot from a voter's old party was sent out before the change was registered.

“We sent out 500,000 cards. We were delayed on that because of all the lawsuits in the redistricting. We would have normally sent that out a little earlier,” Hogan said. “We will give them the right ballot when they go to the early voting site.

Hogan said when voters get to the polls, it should all work out.

Early voting could play a pivotal role this year with a record number of registered voters in Florida heading into the August primary.

More than 12 million people are eligible to vote in the primary election.

More than 592,000 Floridians have already voted by mail, with more than 1.6 million ballots not yet returned.
State law requires at least eight days of early voting from Aug. 20-27.

Counties were also given the option to add six more days of early voting with four out of the five most populated counties opting for the additional time.

Voters should have received a new voter registration card, but they are not required to vote. Voters just need a photo ID.

Click here for the latest numbers on Duval County early voting and information on where to vote.

News4Jax reporter Matt Galka contributed to this report.