Turnout in Jacksonville election nearly 25%

Jacksonville mayor, sheriff, City Council, other posts on ballot Tuesday

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nearly a quarter of registered voters in Duval County cast ballots for Jacksonville's mayor, sheriff, several City Council members, property appraiser and tax collector.

After two weeks of early voting, polls at 199 precincts in Duval County were open 12 hours Tuesday.

Based on the low turnout for early voting and returned mail-in ballots, the Supervisor of Elections Office projected 23 percent of registered voters would participate, and final turnout number after the polls reached 24.4 percent.

That compares to a 33.7 percent turnout in the last city election four years ago and 29.7 percent eight years ago.

"In a way, it’s been a very, very easy election, but that is not what we want," Elections Supervisor Mike Hogan said. "We would really prefer that we have lines and people voting because that is a part of all American progress. If you’re not taking the time to vote, seems to me you’re saying you don’t care about government or that everything is OK. And I haven’t heard anybody tell me everything is OK."

News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney, director of the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University, thinks there was less interest because there is no competitive marquee race. The highest profile race -- the battle for mayor between incumbent Lenny Curry and challengers Omega Allen, Anna Lopez Brosche and Jimmy Hill -- has been filed with negative campaign ads and few personal appearances. It was widely known that Curry is so far ahead in the polls that the challenge is to keep Curry's vote under 50 percent Tuesday to force a runoff in May.

When all the vote were counted, Curry drew 57 percent to cruise to victory.

"It was a big night for Lenny Curry and it was a big night for the local Republican Party," Mullaney said.

Turnout varied by City Council district, with the highest reaching 29.3 percent in District 14, which stretches from Riverside south to the county line, where there was a highly contested four-way race. The lowest turnout -- 18.6 percent -- was in District 11, where incumbent District Councilman Danny Becton was not challenged for re-election.

"I cannot think of anything more important for an American than voting," Max McDaniel said while voting Monday because she'll be working Tuesday as a deputy at a polling place.

Historical turnout in Jacksonville's March elections

Tuesday's 24.4 percent was the lowest turnout for a first election since 2007, when John Peyton won a second term as mayor.

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