Despite ballot issues in Jacksonville, turnout exceeds predictions

Candidates for governor, dozens of other offices await voters' decision

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 3.5 million Floridians cast ballots either in person Tuesday, or in early or mail-in voting, determining the matchups for high profile elections in November and dozens of other state and local races.

By the time more than 5,000 precincts across the state closed, 27 percent of Florida's 13 million registered voters had cast ballots. That may not sound like much, but it's the highest turnout for a mid-term primary in 16 years.

Voting around Jacksonville was steady, but not without issues. There were problems scanning completed ballots at most, if not all Duval County precincts.

"I went up and put it in a ballot to vote, but it didn’t drop the ballot into the bottom of the thing," said Robert Ward after he voted at a Southside church. "So they had to go in and unlock it and pull the ballot, mess with it again to get it to go through there."

News4Jax was told the paper was slightly too wide and the ballots were jamming in the scanners. One poll worker told us that the problem mostly affected nonpartisan ballots. One precinct solved the problem by trimming the ballots slightly with a pair of scissors. Other ballots that wouldn't go through were set aside in a locked box to be counted by the election office.

"Ballots that are not being accepted by the tabulator machines are placed in a secure, locked compartment and they will be counted in the presence of the canvassing board after the polls close," the Duval Supervisor of Elections Office said in a statement.

"Every vote is going to count. Nobody was turned away," Duval County Supervisor Mike Hogan said. "All those ballots are going to be tabulated. It will be done accurately and completely for the end of the evening."

While voting in primary elections is historically low, election observers were encouraged that more Floridians cast ballots early or by mail before Tuesday’s elections than in past primaries. Nearly 1.86 million votes were cast by Monday, according to the Florida Department of State. 

Duval County turnout just passed 28 percent, which exceeded Hogan's prediction of 24-25 percent.

Hogan said he always like to see more people voting.

"An American citizen, I think it’s our duty to vote. I don’t like to see anything under 50 percent (turnout)," Hogan said.

Nassau County saw 31 percent turnout, with 29 percent turning out in St. Johns County and 27 percent in Clay.

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