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Early voting turnout “very sad” as Tuesday’s special House 84 election approaches

by George Bennett | August 24th, 2009

Early and absentee voting figures suggest another low-turnout special election Tuesday when Riviera Beach Councilman Cedrick Thomas and Delray Beach City Commissioner Mack Bernard vie for the state House District 84 seat.

In fact, not even all the candidates will be voting. Bernard lives outside the district and has not changed his residence. If he wins, he said he will establish residency in District 84 before Sept. 22, when the winner of Tuesday’s election will take office.

Only 75 people cast early ballots for the election to replace Priscilla Taylor, who left the District 84 seat in July when Gov. Charlie Crist appointed her to a Palm Beach County commission vacancy.

“It’s very sad,” said Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher.

Early voting was available at two sites from Aug. 17 through Sunday for the special House race.

The 75 early votes for Tuesday’s District 84 election compare to 186 early votes cast in Palm Beach County before the Aug. 4 special election for Senate District 28.

The Senate district has about 45 percent more voters in Palm Beach County than House District 84.

The special Senate election, won by Republican Joe Negron, had total turnout of 4.9 percent in Palm Beach County.

For that Senate race, the county elections office got 6,170 requests for absentee ballots and voters returned 2,882 ballots.

Absentee ballots are coming in a slower rate for Tuesday’s House race. Through Monday afternoon, more than 3,900 voters had requested absentee ballots and 1,077 had been returned. Absentee ballots will be counted if they are received by the elections office before 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in District 84, which includes Riviera Beach and part of West Palm Beach and stretches to the Glades. Thomas and Bernard are both Democrats. Because no other candidates are running, the election is open to all voters regardless of party affiliation.

Because early voting was offered at two existing elections offices — the main office in suburban West Palm Beach and a satellite office in Palm Beach Gardens — the exercise was mostly handled by elections staffers who were working their regular hours, Bucher said. Still, Bucher said, her office paid one employee 16 hours of overtime and paid about $3,600 to poll workers.

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One Response to “Early voting turnout “very sad” as Tuesday’s special House 84 election approaches”

  1. pq Says:

    If you want people to show up at the booth don’t have an election in hot sweaty August when most people take a vacation …All elections should be in November

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