Coronavirus looms over Florida primary


(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The coronavirus pandemic comes as Florida gears up for the Primary Election Tuesday.

The Secretary of State and election supervisors are working to ensure sanitary conditions at the polls, but how the virus may impact turnout has yet to be seen.

At a polling place in the state’s capital city, early voting had slowed down to a trickle Thursday.

“I’m seeing a little bit less turnout today than I’d expected, because it’s kind of late in the week of early voting,” said Leon County Election Supervisor Mark Earley.

Earley said the virus may be a factor, but he and other supervisors in coordination with the Secretary of State are taking every precaution.

“In many instances after every single voter. If they touch a pen we wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe. If they put their ballot on a privacy booth surface to vote, we clean the surface,” said Earley.

More than 1.4 million Floridians have either early voted or cast a ballot through the mail so far, compared to 1.8 million in 2016, but the biggest impact to turnout could be on Election Day itself.

Early voter Katie Britt Williams told us Coronavirus was a concern, but not enough to keep her from the polls.

“I’ve also heard really awesome feedback from people who have already gone that it’s really clean,” said Williams.

Because the virus poses the highest risk to the elderly Governor DeSantis ordered polling places within assisted living facilities to be closed to outside voters.

“We obviously view that as problematic. Now supervisors have the authority to make those changes as they see fit,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Earley and other supervisors are already rolling out plans to accommodate.

“We’re going to provide alternative voting sites for those folks. We’re certainly encouraging them to go vote at an early voting site,” said Earley.

If your polling place is located in an assisted living facility or nursing home, contact your local supervisor of elections or check their website for information about alternative voting locations.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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