Early voting starts New Year’s Day for South Florida elections
Image via AP.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis' election date choices trigger a rare sight of New Year's Day voting.

Hours after the ball drops in Times Square, so too will votes drop into ballot boxes in parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Early voting must start 10 days before the area’s upcoming Jan. 11 election, according to state statutes. So even if it’s a U.S. Postal Service holiday, polls will be open for business on New Year’s Day.

Voters will begin casting ballots in the Special General Election to elect a Representative in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. A Special Primary Election will also be held for three state legislative races throughout the region.

New Year’s Day early voting is a first, says Broward Elections Supervisor Joe Scott. He’s predicting a small turnout on Saturday.

“We are expecting a light day so if people want to get in and out quickly, I recommend New Year’s Early Voting,” Scott wrote in a text.

Early voting will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at six sites in Broward County. and seven sites in Palm Beach County.

A confluence of events landed the start of early voting for both a Special General Election and a Special Democratic Primary Election on the first day of 2022.

First, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of CD 20 died in office in April after a long battle with cancer. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has the power to call a Special Election, chose Jan. 11 for the General Election to replace Hastings. That led to one of the longest congressional vacancies in modern American history.

It wasn’t until five days after a suit was filed for his inaction that DeSantis called an election to choose a successor to represent the CD 20 that straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The Special Primary Election for Hastings’ seat was held in November. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won the Democratic nod. As a result, Cherfilus-McCormick will face off in the Jan. 11 Special General Election against Republican Jason Mariner, Libertarian Mike ter Maat and two others with no party affiliation: Jim Flynn and Leonard Serratore.

Cherfilus-McCormick is largely expected to win that contest, given that the area leans heavily Democratic.

The Special Primary Election contests, for which early voting also starts Saturday, were triggered because three state lawmakers ran for Hastings’ seat. Sen. Perry Thurston Jr. and Reps. Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy all resigned to run — and lost — their campaigns to replace Hastings. Thurston represents Senate District 33 in northwest Broward County. DuBose represents House District 94 in central Broward. Hardy represents House District 88 in central Palm Beach County.

DeSantis did not name the dates for these elections until 12 days after a suit was filed because of his inaction in scheduling the election for these legislative seats. DeSantis has been widely criticized for the delay that critics say disenfranchises voters in these districts, which are primarily made up of Black neighborhoods.

In SD 33, Rosalind Osgood — former Broward County School Board chairwoman — and Terry Ann Williams Edden will compete in the Primary Election for the chance to face Republican Joseph Carter in March’s General Election.

That district covers parts of Margate, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, North Lauderdale, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Oakland Park, Plantation and parts of Fort Lauderdale.

To succeed DuBose, Daryl CampbellJosephus Eggelletion IIIRod Kemp and Elijah Manley will compete in the Primary Election. As no Republican qualified in that race, the winner of the Primary will be elected by default.

HD 94 spans parts of Broward County including Fort Lauderdale, Plantation and Wilton Manors.

To succeed Hardy, Democratic voters will be asked to choose between Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds and Clarence “Chief” Williams. The winner of the Primary Election will face Republican Guarina Torres in March.

HD 88 is in Palm Beach County, covering Lake Park, Riviera Beach and Mangonia Park. Redistricting could affect the boundaries of all three districts in the August and November elections, however.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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