Escambia Supervisor David Stafford says hours for six of the seven locations are nine a.m. until six p.m. The seventh, the Supervisor’s main office, closes an hour earlier.
“We looked at data, particularly from some other counties and also compared it to ours, and noted that counties that open a little bit later in the morning and stayed open a little bit later in the evening got more bang for their buck in that final hour,” said Stafford.
Both counties have roughly the same types of elected offices to fill, such as county commission and school board, as well as helping decide legislative and congressional races. And there’s also a first on this ballot, a Libertarian Party primary with two U.S. Senate candidates, Augustus Invictus of Orlando and Paul Stanton of Deland.
“The Florida Legislature several years ago expanded the primary system to include third parties, but this is the first time it’s actually happened,” said Stafford. “If you’re a registered Libertarian you go to your polling place, early voting site, or receive your vote-by-mail ballot you’ll have a specific ballot style for Libertarians.”
The one referendum on the ballot is Amendment-4, which would provide tax exemptions for solar power and other renewable energy equipment included in home values, commercial properties, and industrial properties for property taxes.
“We’re deciding sheriff, property appraiser, as well as the superintendent of schools and two school board seats,” says Paul Lux, who oversees elections in Okaloosa County. Early voting there runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
“The City of Mary Esther is tacked onto this election, so that they can have a special election to fill their two vacant city council seats,” Lux says.
As with the other 65 elections offices around Florida, a big unknown is turnout, which historically is pretty anemic for a referendum not involving a presidential race.
“I would say, given the interest in this election this year, that we are probably going to be on track for somewhere between the 28-32% range,” says Lux.
Stafford says historically, turnout in Escambia County runs 25-30% for a primary.
One challenge for election supervisors around Florida is getting ballots to military deployed overseas. Okaloosa County’s Paul Lux says by law, the ballots must be in the service members’ hands 45 days before an election.
“A lot of those people enjoy receiving their ballot via email, and we have emailed almost 1,500 ballots,” Lux said. “The tricky part is getting that ballot back from them, if they’re in a remote location.”
Overseas voters cannot email their selections. The ballots have to be printed, filled out, then faxed back to elections offices.