Special Jacksonville election will be city’s 1st under Florida’s new voting rules

Filling vacant City Council seat expected to cost $3 million

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mail ballots were mailed out Thursday in Duval County for a Dec. 7 special election for the Jacksonville City Council seat left vacant when Tommy Hazouri passed away last month. In-person voting begins the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Even though it’s only one council seat, it’s an at-large seat so voters in Duval County can cast a ballot.

Four people are running: Republicans Nick Howland and Howland “Howdy” Russell and Democrats Coach James Jacobs and Tracye Polson. But since city elections are unitary -- all voters cast ballots in all elections for any candidate on the ballot.

It’s also going to be an election that will be closely watched because it’s the first for Jacksonville since the 2020 election that raised concerns about election integrity and prompted the Florida Legislature to change voting laws.

Duval County Election Supervisor Mike Hogan said he is still getting many calls from people worried about the process and brought in both Republicans and Democrats and showing them the process.

“I think there is so much information out there -- misinformation about the integrity of the election. That’s all I’ve been getting this whole year,” Hogan said.

Because is only one City Council race, even though voting is open countywide, this special election is expected to have a very low turnout -- maybe 10% to 15%.

Early voting will begin on Nov. 27 and those sites will remain open eight hours a day for nine days. It’s not as many days as in the past and there will not be as many sites. Early voting locations will also have drop boxes for vote-by-mail ballots, but those will only be available during the hours the sites are open.

Because its a full, citywide race, this election is going to be costly: about $3 million.

“That’s $3 million to elect one office for 20 months,” Hogan said. “It’s a lot of money for the taxpayers.”

If you have not registered to vote, you must do so by Nov. 8 to participate in this special election.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.