OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Osceola County’s supervisor of elections, Mary Jane Arrington tells News 6 that one of the reasons that could have caused a low voter turnout is because there was no momentum built up for the candidates on the ballot.
The county also has a younger population, she added, who may not completely understand the importance of the primary election.
“I was disappointed when early voting started and it was way slower than it normally is and so that gave me an indication that maybe election day was not going to be what we expected,” Arrington said.
The goal was to have a 20% voter turnout, but it ended up being 17.7%. Of the more than 249,000 registered voters in Osceola County, only 44,254 cast their ballot for the primary election.
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“Local government, you could touch local government if you’re a regular citizen; you could call your city commissioner or your county commissioner. They are really close to us, they affect our daily lives,” Arrington said.
Nonprofit organizations like Mi Familia Vota and Poder Latin X work to get people registered to vote and educate them about the electoral process. Both organizations agreed there’s still a lack of proper information and a disconnect between candidates and voters.
“We can do the work, we can register the people but if they don’t feel affinity with a candidate, with a party, it’s difficult,” Romer Negrete, field director for Mi Familia Vota said.
Another factor Mi Familia Vota said influences the election is that some Puerto Ricans who move to the mainland often aren’t aware of a primary election because they don’t hold midterms on the island, only a general presidential election.
“Sometimes when you are in the field and say ‘Hey, the governor election is coming.’ They say ‘What? but I just voted for the presidential’ — in that community you see it every time,” Negrete said.
Nancy Batista, field director of Poder Latin X, more work needs to be done to address that issue.
“They have no such thing as early voting, so all of this is new to them, the process is even new to them,” Batista said. “This is something that our community still needs a lot of education on and even though I may be disappointed I know that there is a lot of work to get done.”
Overall, primary voting across Central Florida was down this year compared to 2020 and 2018.
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Moving forward Poder Latin X said they’re working in coalition with other non-profits in hopes voter turnout improves in November’s general election.
“What I’m asking all of you to do now is not only to pledge that you’re going out to vote but pledge that you’re going to get three other people in your direct circle to go out to vote,” Batista said. “The representatives that are going to go into office have a say directly of how our lives moving forward will be directly impacted.”
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