Floridians flood polls with high-profile races at stake

Voters choose U.S. senator, new governor, dozens of other officials, issues

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – About 35 percent more Floridians cast ballots this year than four years ago -- the last midterm election. More than 8 million votes were cast, the most in a non-presidential election in the state's history.

Voters picked a U.S. senator, a new governor and several new members of Congress, decided on 12 proposed changes to the state's constitution and chose their representatives in the Florida Legislature and on local commissions and boards.

There were lines at many precincts and Duval County's election website shows 164,682 voted Tuesday, bringing the turnout to 62  percent, far surpassing Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan's prediction of 56 percent.

Turnout reports from neighboring counties were close to 60 percent or higher, with St. Johns County just passing 70 percent.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office hadn't reported any major issues at polling locations, but Alachua County reported intermittent problems with its electronic voter registration records. About 75 complaints were received about a Pasco County church that hosts a polling place and had a sign posted reading, "Don't vote for Democrats on Tuesday and sing 'Oh How I Love Jesus' on Sunday."

“Division of Elections staff is communicating with each county supervisor of elections throughout the day, and we stand ready to provide any needed assistance,” Detzner said in a statement.

Scanners went down at two Duval County precincts during the day, but those were fixed within an hour.

One Jacksonville voter said she was told she had already voted, but her voter record had someone else's name and address on it. One convicted felon who said his rights were restored 16 years ago was told he could not vote. Both those people had to cast provisional ballots, which the elections canvassing board will review in the coming days.

Races for governor and U.S. senator drew national attention. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum voted Tuesday morning in rainy Tallahassee, while Republican nominee Ron DeSantis voted in St. Johns County as a small crowd of supporters chanted, "We want Ron."

Polls closed at 7 p.m., but anyone who was in line at that time was be allowed to vote. News4Jax was told people were still voting at 8 p.m. at a precinct on Old St. Augustine Park, near Baptist South.

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