‘I don’t understand’: Duval County elections supervisor disappointed at voter turnout

(Steve Patrick/SnapJAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville residents ready to cast their ballots for city elections headed to the polls Tuesday to elect the next mayor and new city council members. Well, some did.

Election officials hoped turnout would increase on election day as early voting only brought in just shy of 14% of registered voters in Duval County. However, three hours before polls were set to close, turnout crept up to about 20%.

At the Supervisor of Elections Office, the canvassing board was reviewing questionable ballots with issues such as overvotes.

At the Lakewood precinct, which is usually jammed packed, there were hardly any voters coming through. Voters told News4JAX that they were surprised about the low turnout.

Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan had predicted a 25 to 30% turnout when News4JAX spoke with him Monday, but when we talked with him Tuesday, he said he was disappointed by the outcome.

“Fully expected to have a big turnout. We have seven candidates for mayor. Seventeen races. I don’t understand,” Hogan said.

Hogan’s spirits were still high with anticipation that voters would trickle in after 5 p.m.

“That’s usually a good time for us. We do see numbers climb. Will they climb enough to reach 30%? No, I don’t think so,” Hogan said.

As polls closed at 7 p.m., voter turnout, according to the SOE website, was at 25%. Results just after 7 p.m. showed 38% of Democratic voters submitted a ballot on Election Day, while another 38% of Democrats early voted and 23% voted by mail.

The results showed of Republican voters, 50% voted on election day, while 31% early voted. Another 18% voted by mail. Of those with no party affiliation, 43% voted on election day while 31% voted early. Approximately 24% voted by mail.

News4JAX reporters were at different precincts across Jacksonville, talking to voters about their expectations for the race and the candidates.

At the Adele Garage Cultural Center in Atlantic Beach, voters were making their way to the polls. Election workers said there were a few dozen voters per hour. The crowd consisted of a lot of retirement-age voters.

Anne Maxwell spoke to voters who said the issues that concerned them included immigration, city development, public safety and Confederate monuments.

Just about all the voters agreed that they were taking a close look at each candidate before making their final votes.

“There’s really no way to get an effective snapshot of how someone will represent you unless you do your homework and really delve into it,” Suzanna Shaughnessy said. “That’s why soundbite ads are not something that appeals to me.”

Those voters at the Mandarin Presbyterian Church precinct said they chose to focus on who each candidate was rather than focus on the issues.

“Like, who and what they represent. What they say that they’ll do and what they will do,” Marc Kaye told Scott Johnson.

Joe McClean also talked to voters at the First Timothy Baptist Church precinct on Biscayne Boulevard.

Dr. Jelly Jackson had a resounding message for the final candidates chosen to represent the city.

“Number one, I’m thinking about being consistent and accountability. Whoever wins in any district whether it’s from one to 1,000, mean what you say, say what you mean. If you’re not going to do the job, then don’t run,” Jackson said.

Jackson also mentioned crime as an important issue for voters, which LaJuanette Butler said was an influential issue for the candidate she was compelled to support.

“I’m hoping with a new mayor that they can bring an end to some of those issues,” Butler said.

About the Authors:

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

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.