Orange County breaks record for Florida primary voter turnout with 24 percent

Supervisor of Elections says local elections drawing voters to polls

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - For the last two Florida primary elections, less than 20 percent of Orange County's registered voters have turned out; however this year, less than two hours before the polls closed on Tuesday the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office was reporting a record turnout.

Less than two hours before the polls in Florida closed, more than 170,000 Orange County voters had participated, bringing voter turnout to 22 percent and breaking the record for primary election turnout in the county.

"It looks like it's going to be a record setting day for a primary election," Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said early in the day.

By the time the polls closed at 7 p.m. Orange County had well surpassed the last two primary numbers with close to a 25 percent turnout. In 2018, 138,500 ballots were cast with a 18.87 percent turnout. The 2014 primary saw a 16 percent voter turnout.

Cowles said this year, with more early voting opportunities, convenience may have helped the turnout numbers.

"We are a service industry community and people don't work the traditional 8-to-5 job," he said.

On Aug. 26, the last day of early voting, more than 44,000 residents had cast their ballots.

The supervisor of elections thinks local nonpartisan races for Orange County commissioners and school board chair helped too, because Florida is a closed primary state.

"It's very important to vote here, locally, because of the fact that you are voting on the leadership who is going to make the decision for this community for the future," Cowles said.

The only thing Cowles worried about keeping people away from voting Tuesday afternoon was when the afternoon showers started rolling in. "We are hoping the rain clouds move on, so voters need to know polls are open until 7 p.m."

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