Here’s why 55% of Orange County voters won’t see local candidates on their ballots

Primary election day in Florida is on Aug. 18, early voting underway

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – During this year’s primary election, hundreds of thousands of Orange County registered voters will not cast their ballots for sheriff, property appraiser, or state attorney.

According to data from the elections office, more than 55% of the county's registered voters will not see major races on their ballots.

"The sheriff, the property appraiser, and the state attorneys race there are only democratic candidates and it is a partisan contest and so only the democrats will vote on it," Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said.

Cowles said no republican candidates qualified for those races.

Cowles tells News 6 according to state law if the candidates running for constitutional offices are all from the same party, then the election is universal which means all voters can vote.

There are two write-in candidates for both the sheriff and property appraiser races, as well as a non-party affiliated candidate running for state attorney, these are now partisan contests and only Democrats can vote.

Cowles said the candidate with the most votes in these races will win the primary. Cowles said there will not be a runoff in these races.

Republican and no party affiliation voters will not have a say in these races until the November general election. The winner from the primary will go against the write-in and non-party affiliated candidates.

However, Cowles said statistically write-in candidates don’t win county, state, or federal races. He adds many of them drop out of the race before election day.

“We’ve seen it before, sometimes the write-in candidates will withdraw and then the contest will be over,” Cowles said. “If a person does move on to the general, it is very, very likely they are going to win big in the general election.”

That means more than 468,000 voters may not get the chance to vote in these races.

Cowles said write-in candidates are supposed to allow anyone to run for office. They are not required to pay a qualifying fee or collect petitions.

“But they don’t get their name printed on the ballot, so in that case, they have to go get enough people to write their name in order for them to win and that was the intent of write-ins,” Cowles said.

But Cowles said they have since become a "political tool" in the election process.

"We've seen more of it being used as a political tool in different ways than a legitimate candidate who is seriously working to win the seat," he said.

Early voting in Orange County ends on Sunday, Aug. 16. The primary election day is Tuesday, Aug. 18.


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