Voters will be heading to the polls on Aug. 28 in Florida’s primary election.
Statewide, voters will decide who will represent the Democrats and who will represent the Republicans in a number of seats, including the race for governor.
On the local front, voters will cast their ballots for districts one, three and five of the Pasco County School Board.
The winner of those school board races could be decided, if a candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, the winner will be selected in the Nov. 6 general election.
Voters also will be choosing judges and selecting candidates in a number of primary races.
Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley is not anticipating a heavy turnout.
“Generally, with elections, the best indicator is history, so when we’re talking about previous times, the most recent thing to go back to would be the last midterm, which would be in 2014.
“It pains me to report that the turnout was less than 15 percent.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll do better, we, as the electorate, but only time will tell,” Corley said.
“Midterm primaries are generally lackluster turnout,” he added.
There has been a slight spike in registration, but only about 5 percent, he said.
Corley also noted that “there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence of a youth voter surge, between 18 and 29 year olds,” but he said, he has not been seeing it.
“Compared to the same time in 2014, it’s about on par. That really, really surprised me,” Corley said.
Pasco County has slightly less than 347,000 voters, making it 12th largest in Florida. Of those, there are 134,824 registered Republicans, 108,520 registered Democrats, 100,637 registered as No Party and 2,791 registered as Minor Party.
Corley said there has been substantial interest in election security.
“If someone would have told me prior to the 2016 election, we would spend pretty much every waking moment since that November election focusing on, intensely, becoming hyper-vigilant on all things security — both physical and cyber — I would have said, ‘No, you’re crazy.’ But, here we are.”
Recently, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who is running for re-election, made national headlines by saying that Russia had penetrated Florida’s election systems.
Corley said it is difficult to respond to Nelson’s statement.
“It’s really, really challenging because I’m not sure exactly what Senator Nelson is alluding to. I know the Department of Homeland Security has sort of publicly refuted his comments. Of course, far be it for me to correct a senator on the intelligence committee. I just know of no information.”
Corley went on to say: “We have worked extensively with our state and federal partners. We’re talking about the FBI, even the National Guard, but particularly the Department of Homeland Security.”
He also noted that in 2017, the elections were declared critical infrastructure.
“We now have a seat at the table right next to nuclear power plants, for example, because how much more critical can you be than the underpinnings of our democracy?” Corley said.
The Department of Homeland Security has offered a myriad of services for advice, counsel and assistance.
“I can’t tell you, for obvious security reasons, and so that’s the balance, trying to reassure voters that we’re doing everything that we can to fortify the elections and letting them know there’s always a Plan B.
“For security reasons, I can’t tell my wife. I can’t tell my dog. I can’t tell anybody” he said.
Corley also noted that Pasco has added three new early voting locations.
“Early voting clearly has become very, very popular,” he said.
“We added Alice Hall. We added the Florida Hospital Ice Center complex. We jokingly say we literally and figuratively have the coolest early voting site. We added the Odessa Community Center,” he said.
Vote by mail is popular, too.
“We have record numbers of Vote by Mail. We’re almost at 70,000 vote by mail ballots that went out.
“There are literally, tens of thousands of ballots, sitting on coffee tables or on kitchen tables. All they have to do is fill out a few ovals and shoot it back to us, and it could change any race,” he said.
“What’s the old adage? ‘We get the government that we deserve,’” Corley said.
“Everyone remembers the infamous 2000 election. Everyone remembers, it came down to Florida,” he said. With 6 million votes cast, Bush had a lead over Gore of 537 votes.
Corley said what many people don’t realize is one fact that he “almost couldn’t make up.”
The number of Pasco voters skipping the presidential race that year was ‘1776,’” Corley said, adding “#Irony.”
Ride to the polls for free
Pasco County Public Transportation (PCPT) is offering free bus rides to the polls on Aug. 28, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This service is being provided to Pasco residents through a partnership between PCPT and Supervisor of Elections Brian E. Corley. Just present your valid Voter Information Card.
Published August 22, 2018