Broward County Supervisor of Elections Pete Antonacci says his office is preparing for voter turnout on Nov. 3 to break records in the county, possibly reaching as high as 75%.
Antonacci made those comments Thursday at a Broward County Commission meeting. A higher-than-normal turnout will also be complicated by the disproportionate share of mail-in ballots, which will start going out to voters near the end of September.
The county saw more than 200,000 mail-in ballots submitted in the Aug. 18 Primary Election. More than 440,000 Broward voters have already asked for mail-in ballots. Antonacci said that number could reach 500,000 for the General Election.
Those ballots must be received by the Supervisor of Elections office by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. That means voters are encouraged to complete and send in those ballots as soon as they are completed to ensure they arrive on time.
According to analysis cited by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Man, Broward has averaged 69% turnout in the previous five presidential contests. The 2008 contest between Barack Obama and John McCain saw 73.4% turnout. The 2016 race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton saw 71.6% turnout.
As to whether the Nov. 3 turnout will actually reach the 75% mark, Antonacci said he’s unsure. “A lot of this is purely speculative. It’s a little bit of voodoo science and so who knows.” Still, he told the Commission he wants his office to be prepared.
The county has been plagued by election screw-ups in the past. In just the two most recent elections, a court ruled the Broward Supervisor’s office illegally destroyed paper ballots from the 2016 Democratic primary in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. That occurred under former Supervisor Brenda Snipes’ tenure.
The ruling prompted the Florida Division of Elections to send monitors to Broward for the 2018 election cycle. That cycle didn’t work out much better. Broward’s ballot design was confusing for many voters and may have swung the U.S. Senate contest between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott.
Snipes stepped aside after the 2018 contest. Antonacci was appointed to replace her, though he decided not to run for reelection.