Early voting generated hundreds of thousands of ballots across Palm Beach County but when it came to election day, it seemed more candidate signs dotted the drizzly landscape than voters.
There were few lines at polling places and few reports of trouble.
The question: Would the popularity of two weeks of early voting generate greater participation overall, or just shift habits and leave polls empty?
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher replied Tuesday morning. She was relaxed and smiling, a rare thing for an elections supervisor on the big day, particularly in a county where, even 18 years later, butterfly ballots still flit through election-watchers’ memories.
As of 11:20 p.m., Bucher’s office had counted ballots from nearly 230,000 Palm Beach County voters. With 99.5 percent of the votes tallied, turnout was running at 30 percent among Republicans, 33 percent among Democrats and just 8 percent among unaffiliated voters. Overall turnout was 25 percent.
One complaint popped up on the Engage West Palm Facebook page. West Palm resident Aaron Wormus said he’d been turned away from his polling place at Precinct 2140 on South Olive Avenue early Tuesday because he was a no-party affiliation, or NPA, voter. When he told election workers that he still was entitled to vote for judicial candidates, one responded, “See you in November.”
Bucher, however, got wind of the complaint and called the clerk at the polling place. The clerk and poll workers were aware that NPA’s also are entitled to cast ballots, Bucher said.
She said Wormus should return and try again, and he said he would.
In Jupiter, meanwhile, a half-dozen residents didn’t find out until showing up to vote that their polling place had been moved. And when they went to the new location, signs for it were barely visible.
“Just went to vote at Independence Middle School in Abacoa and was told my voting location had been changed,” one person emailed The Palm Beach Post. They could barely find the new site, the Martinique community clubhouse, the writer said. “I drove by once, didn’t see signs, came back and one sign had fallen over on grass. The ‘vote here’ sign was behind parked cars back from the street, in the shade. Two ‘vote here’ signs were taped sideways at entrance and not visible from street.”
A word to the wise: Before leaving the house, check the Supervisor of Elections website to confirm the address of your polling places, because they do change from time to time. Click here to find out where to vote.