Officials Begin Mailing Special Elections Ballots



The fact a special election cycle in the area spans several holidays doesn’t mean Gulf Coast elections officials can ignore certain deadlines. This morning, 695 mail-in ballots will be shipped by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections workers to unformed service members and civilian voters residing overseas eligible to vote in the Feb. 13 election for a state House representative in District 72. 

The first batch of domestic ballots will be mailed on Jan. 9, according to Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner, and the office already has received 21,000 requests for ballots.”The turnout might be pretty good for a special election,” Turner says. 

Based on turnout in a Democratic primary earlier this month, the ballots coming in by mail will likely make up the majority of votes cast. In the Dec. 5 contest, 60.51 percent of all votes cast came by mail, with another 10.56 percent cast in early voting. Just 28.93 percent of voters who participated in the primary waited until Election day. Turner says more voters enjoy the convenience of voting from their homes, and the political parties also see mail-in ballots as a vote they can pursue early in a cycle.

Requests for absentee ballots must be received by the Supervisor of Elections office no later than Jan. 7 at 5pm. The ballots must be received returned to the elections office by the time polls close at 7pm on Feb. 13.

About 21.2 percent of eligible voters turned out fro the Democratic primary. For an unexpected special election with only one race on the ballot, that’s healthy turnout, Turner says, and he anticipates similar turnout in the Feb. 13 deciding election. “It will not be what a normal general election would be,” he says, “but hopefully there’s some enthusiastic voters out there. And we want a good turnout so people have their voices heard.”

It’s been an unusual election for the Sarasota office. The race was called by Gov. Rick Scott after the surprise resignation of state Rep. Alex Miller for personal reasons in August. The time of the primary and general election has meant working through a period dotted with government holidays. The overseas ballots are being sent out the day after Christmas, when the office has been closed since Friday in observance of the holiday. Turner also notes that for the primary, election workers took a holiday on Thanksgiving and the following day, but on Saturday were back to work manning early voting stations. “We do what we have to do to serve the voters,” Turner says.

Candidates for the District 72 special election include Republican James Buchanan, Democrat Margaret Good and Libertarian Alison Foxall.

Photo courtesy Supervisor of Election: A voter signs a mail-in ballot.

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