Laurel Lee: Despite Palm Beach County voting hiccup, precincts prepared for voters
Laurel Lee. Image via Renzo Downey.

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800 volunteers stayed home across Palm Beach County.

Amid reports that Palm Beach County polling sites are short hundreds of staffers and coronavirus concerns, Secretary of State Laurel Lee said election day voting Tuesday is underway across the state in the presidential primary.

Five Palm Beach County precincts have had “challenges” this morning, Lee said, as some poll workers reportedly stayed home. The county had 800 volunteers back out as of Monday, with just 100 new volunteers offering to take their place.

“We are working closely with Supervisor [Wendy] Link to ensure that voters in those locations have the opportunity to cast their ballots today,” Lee said.

The Secretary of State added that her department contacted all supervisors of elections and have been assured that precincts are prepared and equipped for voters.

“Supervisors have taken health precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she said.

Even as President Donald Trump, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state encourage restricting gathering sizes, Lee said crowds won’t be a problem at polling facilities with health precautions underway.

A coalition of voting-rights advocacy groups filed a lawsuit seeking to extend mail voting in the state’s primary by 10 days.

Additionally, some Broward County precincts experienced early hiccups but are now open for voters.

Nearly 2 million Floridians cast vote-by-mail ballots or early votes ahead of Tuesday’s presidential primary. Polls will remain open until 7 p.m. and the state’s results will go live when Panhandle precincts close at 7 p.m. local time.

Voters may continue to request and drop off vote-by-mail ballots Tuesday or have designees pick up or drop off ballots after providing two signed affidavits. One affidavit would let the designee pick up the ballot while the second would permit him or her to drop it off.

Voters may continue to request vote-by-mail ballots Tuesday and return them themselves or have designees deliver the ballots. The state is also working with the United States Postal Service to deliver mailed ballots before polls close.

People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 may name a designee to pick up their vote-by-mail ballots with a signed affidavit.

Several polling places located in nursing homes have been moved to other sites.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

One comment

  • Christopher Kennard

    March 17, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    “The Sunshine State is the most populous state holding a primary and it also has the most confirmed cases of the virus, known as COVID-19, of the three states. Five people in the state have died from the disease.”

    “Turnout is expected to be light on Tuesday, something officials said would make it safer to vote.”

    “Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the state’s highest-ranking elected Democrat, said that officials were not expecting large crowds at polling stations.”

    “More than half of those we anticipated to vote in the primary have voted earlier,” she told The Hill. ”

    “She felt all the appropriate safety measures were put in place and based on the amount of people who early voted, knew the polls wouldn’t be crowded,” she said.”

    “Still, she advised: “If they do not feel comfortable going they need to put their health first always.”

    “Voters in three states are taking part in primaries on Tuesday even as public health officials warn that people should stay at home and avoid contact with other people during the coronavirus pandemic.”

    “The fact that the primaries are going forward even as a fourth state, Ohio, put off its contest, has led to some anger online from people who say it would be safer to postpone all the contests.”

    “The online criticism has been vociferous from supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is generally expected to be thumped in the states holding contests Tuesday in Florida, Arizona and Illinois.”

    My best guess is that Bernie Sanders is likely to lose more votes than Joe Biden, and by discarding the fact that it is known voting today, (Tuesday, March 17th 2020) will be less than half of the expected turnout . . . no loss!

    Joe Biden comes our ahead in the primary election and the number of those who would have otherwise come out to vote will feel disenfranchised by both political parties who approved letting the vote proceed, no matter how many people (mostly older voters who tend to vote on Election Day, in person) and how many poll workers may get sick.

    Trump comes out ahead, as Joe Biden will likely be his choice of an “opponent” to . . . ahem … keep America solvent, strong and free!

    Voters in three states are taking part in primaries on Tuesday even as public health officials warn that people should stay at home and avoid contact with other people during the coronavirus pandemic.

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