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Over 6,300 people already voted in HD 58 special election

More than 6,300 registered voters in Florida House District 58 special election have already cast a ballot through the mail ahead of the Dec. 19 special election.

Republican Lawrence McClure, Democrat Jose Vazquez, Libertarian Bryan Zemina and non-party-affiliated Ahmad Saadaldin are the choices for the voters in the district, which encompasses Plant City, Temple Terrace, Dover, Mango, Seffner, Thonotosassa, and parts of Tampa and East Lake-Orient Park.

As is customary before every election, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer conducted Friday what is known as a logic and accuracy test of the county’s voting equipment.

SOE employees took a stack of pre-filled ballots and scanned them through machines to ensure they’re reading every position on the ballot accurately.

“This is kind of the first step in assuring for accurate elections because we’re testing machines to make sure that, in fact, they are counting correctly,” Latimer said.

During the test, ballots with either under votes or over votes were quickly scanned and placed into a different bin. If they were real ballots, the Hillsborough County canvassing board would ultimately inspect them to determine if they were legitimate, and if so would need to detect the intent of the voter if they would ultimately be counted.

The canvassing board was also assembled to compare the voter check-ins with the number of ballots scanned and would also perform a manual audit by hand, counting the ballots to verify reported results.

After the test, the machines were locked up until. They’ll be deployed to the 39 different voting sites that will be open on Election Day.

Early in-person voting begins Saturday, Dec. 9 and ends Dec. 16. There are four early voting sites available in this contest: The County Center at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa; the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center at 2514 N. Falkenburg Road in Tampa; The Bruton Memorial Library at 302 W. McLendon St. in Plant City; and the Temple Terrace Library at 202 Bullard Parkway in Temple Terrace.

Unlike the intense Republican primary between McClure and Yvonne Fry, there has been little controversy during the general election process between the four men vying for the office.

The four candidates will participate in a debate on Monday, Dec. 4, at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay, beginning at 6 p.m.

Moderating the event are representatives of the Hillsborough branch of the League of Women Voters, with a straw poll on the race taken at the end of the evening.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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