Escambia County Supervisor of Elections

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The big question in a presidential election year is typically “who are you going to vote for?” But in 2020 — during a pandemic — the big question might be “how are you going to vote?”

During last month’s primary, more than 2.3 million Florida voters chose to vote by mail compared to 558,430 voting in-person. In Northwest Florida, there was an uptick in mail-in ballots.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

An estimated 1.4 million former felons in Florida became eligible to register to vote on Tuesday, thanks to the passage of constitutional Amendment 4.

On that first day of implementation, Pensacola resident Tranassa White marked the milestone day by completing her voter registration application - in person - at the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Walking in, White admits she’s a bit nervous, “I am.”

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

More than half of Florida's 67 counties began recounting votes Sunday in the razor-thin Senate, gubernatorial and agriculture commissioner races, bringing back memories of the 2000 presidential fiasco.

Among the reporting counties is Escambia, where David Stafford is Elections Supervisor.

“The first thing we need to do is review the publication of the meeting,” said Stafford. “We did a conditional public notice of recount.”

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

It’s Election Day 2018, with more than five million Florida voters already casting ballots – translating to roughly 40 percent of those eligible to vote. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports.

At stake is choosing a new governor and voting on a pivotal U.S. Senate contest. And many voters already had made up their minds early who to support, says Carol Weissert – a political scientist at Florida State University.

Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office is adding a 9th early voting location for the November 6 General Election at the University of West Florida.

Calling it unconstitutional, Tallahassee Federal Judge Mark Walker in July struck down the ban on campus early voting put in place by Secretary of State Ken Detzner. In his ruling, Walker said it appeared to have been aimed at stopping younger voters from casting ballots.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

In the race for the Florida House District 1, it’s come down to a contest between Democrat Vikki Garrett and Republican Mike Hill. Just a few weeks out from the Nov. 6 General Election, the candidates are working to drum up support.

Both were out on the campaign trail this past Saturday. WUWF caught up with Hill as he was canvassing voters in the Cantonment area.

“Takes care of her yard, she loves plants,” said Hill just before a friendly knock on the door of 73-year-old Doris Hawkins.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Out of the 13 million registered voters in Florida, about two million have already cast ballots for Tuesday’s primary, surpassing totals from previous years. Turnout was also reported to be up in western Panhandle.

As of Monday morning, about 1.2 million voters mailed it in, and 659,000 took advantage of early voting, which wrapped up on Saturday. Democrats used a final weekend surge to exceed Republicans by 20,000 in early voting, while the GOP led by 65,000 in absentee ballots cast.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

As part of getting ready for the 2018 election cycle, election officials in Florida have received training from the University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports.

The Center taught the courses in Tallahassee, Miami, Orlando and St. Augustine last month.

“[An election] is an ongoing target; it’s a very fast-moving field. Every breach that occurs, every new threat that comes up, has a little bit of a different twist to it,” says Eman El-Sheikh, Director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity.

WUWF Public Media

With the August 28 primary looming, candidates for local and statewide offices are ratcheting up their campaigns. In the first of a two-part report, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody looks at the grassroots races.

Fifty-two candidates are on the ballot for 21 seats in Escambia County government and the judiciary. Much of the attention will be on the higher-profile races – Pensacola Mayor and City Council, along with the Escambia County Commission.

And they’re off! 

Florida's primary election season is underway after qualifying ended on Friday.

It’s a full plate for voters in Pensacola, with seats up for grabs on the City Council, Escambia County Commission, the Florida and U.S. Houses of Representatives, as well as an open seat for Pensacola Mayor.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Elections officials in both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties plan workshops next week, for those interested in running for office in 2018.

These workshops are useful because many who seek public office have not done so before, and for political veterans it’s a refresher course.

“We have a lot of people that come into our office; obviously, they’re curious about what offices are up for election and what it means to be a candidate,” said Tappie Villane, Elections Supervisor in Santa Rosa County.

As part of getting ready for the 2018 election cycle, Escambia County’s Supervisor of Elections recently attended a meeting in San Antonio, Texas on military and overseas voting.

For several years now, David Stafford and Okaloosa County Elections Chief Paul Lux have been involved with the Overseas Voting Initiative, working with the Pentagon and the Council of State Governments.

Almost four and a half million people already have voted in the battleground state of Florida, according to the state Division of Elections.

That’s including a larger turnout so far in the western Panhandle.

Supervisors of Elections in the three counties report a record in the number of voter registrations for an election cycle: 130,000 in Santa Rosa County and  135,000 in Okaloosa.

Sandra Averhart

A federal court has issued an order extending Florida’s voter registration deadline until Wednesday. That gives state residents one extra day to register to vote in the November 8th General Election.

Across the region, election officials have conducted numerous voter registration events in the past few weeks. Two such events on Friday reached out the youngest and oldest members of Escambia County’s electorate.

The first voter outreach was held at University Pines Senior Living Community in Pensacola.

Voters in Florida go to the polls Tuesday for the state primary: that is, those who haven’t already taken advantage of casting ballots early or by mail.

Escambia County ended just shy of 9,000 early voters, 8,826 is the unofficial turnout figure for the early voting period, August 20-27. David Stafford, Escambia County’s Supervisor of Elections, adds that figure is 103 percent over the 2014 primary, and up 32 percent over 2012.