Floridians choose Trump, Biden in preference primary

Floridians went to the polls in the midst of a coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic — causing some disruptions, and requiring poll workers and election officials to take special precautions.

Lester and Bettie Coupland, both 84, wore surgical masks to their polling place at Pasco County’s Precinct 3, at Pasco-Hernando State College in Dade City.

Both favored Bernie Sanders.

Bettie said she supported Sanders because of his stand on health care. “That’s the main thing,” she said.

“I just think he’s the best candidate, to me, compared to all the others,” Lester said.

Judy and Glenn Alvarez said they went to their precinct in Lutz to vote because they consider it their civic duty. They weren’t worried about potential threats from coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) because they had done their due diligence, regarding keeping safe, and trusted that poll workers would do the same. (B.C. Manion)

Meanwhile, at Hillsborough County’s Precinct 595 at the Lutz Community Center, neither Judy Alvarez or her husband Glenn were worried about going to the polls, despite the pandemic.

Judy said she trusted the poll workers to do their due diligence.

“They were good in there, wiping everything down. No problem,” she said.

Glenn, agreed: “It was very good to see how courteous they were and how concerned they were.”

Both said they supported Biden.

“I always look forward to voting. It’s our civic duty,” Judy said. “I think we need a kinder, gentler time right now. Bernie is a little bit angry, for me.”

Glenn agreed: “I just wanted to vote in the primary election. He’s just a calmer influence. We need to have a united country. I think Joe will be able to unite us.”

Across the state, Floridians overwhelmingly chose Biden and Donald J. Trump as their preferred candidates.

Florida is a closed-primary state, meaning only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote to select their party’s nominee.

Turnout in Pasco was 29.78%, with 76,957 ballots cast. Hillsborough’s turnout was 31.73%, with 196,972 ballots cast.

In Pasco, Biden received 56.79% of the Democrats’ votes, while Bernie Sanders received 24.92%. Michael Bloomberg, who has dropped out of the race, received the next highest share of the vote, at 9.72%.

Trump received 94.59% of the Republican party’s votes.

In Hillsborough, Biden received 55.35% of the Democrats’ votes, while Bernie Sanders captured 26.71%. Michael Bloomberg received the next largest share of the vote, receiving 9.53%.

A sign asked voters to keep a safe distance from each other at Precinct 8, at Heritage Park Building A, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. The sign was to remind people to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Christine Holtzman)

Trump received 92.94%.

Across the state, polling places that had been in nursing homes were moved because of state restrictions forbidding outside visitors to nursing homes. Some counties also reported that poll workers simply did not show up for duty.

Voter Mirta Villa, who cast her ballot at her precinct at Land O’ Lakes Heritage Park, said she supported Biden.

“He was the vice president. He has more experience. We should have somebody who can speak for us. We should have somebody who has experience,” Villa said.

In Zephyrhills, at Precinct 6 at Alice Hall Community Center, 29-year-old Brittni Manautou gave her support to Sanders.

“I just think from the beginning, he has always been on the same platform, whereas other candidates have changed with the times, as what they see fit, but he has run on the same thing and before he was radical for it, but now he’s right on point.

“He just has so many different things he runs on. Between that and him with his support with AOC (Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), I just feel like he’s, aside from being consistent, the Medicare, he just doesn’t change. He cares for the students, the younger generation, whereas everybody else writes us off,” Manautou said.

Voters Joe and Charissa Garcia, of Zephyrhills, split their support.

Charissa supported Biden: “I believe he has the better chance beating Donald Trump.”

Joe voted for Sanders.

“The reason for that is because I’m going to vote for any Democrat come the general election, but right now I’m just voting with where my views align, regardless of whether they’re going to win or not, because it’s been so many years since I did that. It’s always the lesser of two evils, and I’m sick of that.

Mirta Villa, a voter who cast her ballot at her precinct at Land O’ Lakes Heritage Park, said she supported Joe Biden because of his experience as vice president. (B.C. Manion)

“So with Bernie, all of his ideas are great.

“We need a balance. We’ve gotten too capitalistic, and we kind of need the socialism to balance things out again. I think the way that we are today with capitalism, it’s way too much, like too overbearing on everything else, and there’s a good harmony when you have a bit of socialism mixed in with the capitalism. You know, I was a Republican before the last election. I’m fiscally conservative, but my social views are very liberal. There’s just not a place for me, there’s no centrists that I could fit into, and honestly that’s the real reason,” Joe said.

Blanca Roman, a 26-year-old medical assistant at Florida Medical Clinic, said she voted for Sanders because she supported his platform.

If Biden is elected, she said, “we’d probably just go back to the same way it was when (President Barack) Obama was in office.”

She said that wasn’t terrible, but she thinks “there were some things that could’ve been done differently, that Bernie would take and actually do differently. The whole Medicare for all thing, I’m down for it.”

Kevin Weiss contributed to this story

Published March 25, 2020

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