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Elections during coronavirus: Tuesday’s primary a test for Florida before November election

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tuesday is the first of two big elections in Florida this year that are taking place in the midst of the pandemic. 8 On Your Side is closely watching for any voting issues in the primary – it’s a test of how ready Florida is for the November election.

With no major statewide races or referendums on the ballot Tuesday during the primary, the stakes are a bit lower than what they will be in November.

But 8 On Your Side is watching for delays, choke points and issues that could impact your vote. We’ll be looking for lines or delays caused by the new pandemic protocols, potential voter intimidation and, most importantly, tabulation issues.

Across Tampa Bay area counties, we found a surge in mail voting.

“This is unbelievable participation,” Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus.

In Pinellas County, there’s been a 24% turnout. As of Monday evening, 97% have chosen vote-by-mail, instead of early voting.

We’ve all heard horror stories about results taking days; however, Marcus says it’ll be more like minutes in her county since they’ve already started tabulating votes.

“We’ve tabulated nearly 150,000 of those ballots, everything that we’ve received through Friday,” said Marcus. “You’re expecting that majority – probably 70 plus percent of the vote total – is going to be released to the public at 7:02.”

Although election day turnout will be much greater in November, Marcus doesn’t expect days-long delays for results in that election either.

“Are you concerned that slow mail service could get in the way of processing mail ballots in November in Pinellas County?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“As election administrators, our goal is to provide access to the process and so anything that we can do to mitigate that is to the voter’s advantage,” said Marcus.

Pinellas is getting ahead of any postal problems by adding nine additional ballot drop-off locations. This brings the county’s total to 24 drop-off locations for the general election.

But voter advocacy groups are still concerned about voter intimidation at some sites across Florida. 8 On Your Side will be on the ground at various sites to see the situation first-hand.

If you run into any problems voting on Tuesday, email investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

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