Craig Latimer: "Normally 1/3 of our voters vote by mail and for the first time, over 50% voted by mail and we had a low in-person turnout.”

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The 2020 primary elections recently wrapped up across Florida and Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections breaks down the voter turnout. Voters didn’t seem to turn away, rather voted a little differently.

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“These are people, like the school board is a taxing authority; these are people that affect your pocketbook a lot,” said Latimer. “The county commissioners that you’re moving forward, they’re the ones that you need to fix potholes in your street and make sure your garbage gets [picked up], and as a matter of fact, in this primary election we had yesterday the Constitutional Office of the Clerk of the Court was decided at the primary election.” Which Cindy Stuart took 53 percent of the vote over former Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin Beckner.

When asked if the pandemic had an observable impact on vote-by-mail numbers, Latimer responded, “We did. We had a lot more vote by mail turnout. Ironically, we had 80 percent of our voters voted prior to election day, so that was between vote by mail and early vote.”

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Of those who voted in Hillsborough County, Latimer says 68% voted by mail, 12% participated in early voting, and 20% voted at the polls on Election Day. That’s only 32% of in-person voters. And you guessed it, COVID-19 played a major role.

“You know, we saw this kind of changing leading up to the presidential preference primary back in March. The Coronavirus was really starting to highlight the news and we were really starting to feel the impact, locally. Normally 1/3 of our voters vote by mail and for the first time, over 50% voted by mail and we had a low in-person turnout,” said Latimer.

Despite the pandemic, though, many counties had to figure out how to make voting safe to begin with.

“We have put a lot of practices in to place, following the CDC guidelines,” said Latimer.

And based on feedback at Hillsborough County polls, it worked.

“We’ve got a lot of compliments from people that have come for in-person voting that have thanked us for providing a safe and healthy environment,” said Latimer. “I can tell you that I’m so pleased with my staff and the planning that they did.”

He says methods from this week are being considered for the November General Election.

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“It’ll be a much bigger turnout but I can tell you that the practices that my staff has put in place have been very successful and very effective and efficient and we’re going to continue right down that road,” said Latimer.

In accordance with the Florida statute, the unofficial results will be certified Thursday after provisional ballots have been canvassed followed by the certification of official results and a post-election audit on August 25th.

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