Voter turnout in county was average


Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

Though the Supervisor of Elections had hoped for a 50 percent turnout, closer to 40 percent of Alachua County voters took to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes in an election that included the presidential preference primary and a few Gainesville City Commission seats.

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Statewide, turnout was estimated at 30 percent, with about 3 million voters casting ballots - 1.4 million Democrats and 1.6 million Republicans. That was well up from the approximately 20 percent who cast ballots in the 2000 and 2004 presidential primaries, which were held after the nominees had accumulated enough delegates to secure their nominations.

Voter turnout for presidential primaries in Florida has averaged 38 percent since 1972, when the all-time record of 58 percent was set.

In Alachua County, the approximately 39 percent voter turnout was considerably better than the turnout in the gubernatorial primary in 2006, which drew only about 25 percent of voters at the polls.

About six percent of Alachua County voters chose to vote early in this month's election, which was higher than voting officials expected.

"We had about 9,000 people vote early, " said Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter. "That was a lot more than for the gubernatorial primary. We had about 4,500 for that one."

Problems at two precincts - precinct 27 at the Thelma Boltin Center and precinct 29 at the R.T. Schafer Lodge - delayed the tallying of votes Tuesday. Both precincts were unable to upload their results to the Supervisor of Elections Office. Around 10 p.m., those results were hand-delivered to the main office to be uploaded, though Carpenter was unsure what caused the problem.

"We won't know until we get a chance to get in there and look at it," she said.

And besides a tree limb causing a brief power outage at precinct 10, the Micanopy Town Hall, Carpenter said voting went smoothly Tuesday.

"It got really, really busy late in the afternoon because they had so many people showing up who were trying to make address changes," Carpenter said. But she said voters were shuffled to the correct precincts in time to let everyone vote.

"I haven't heard of anybody who didn't (vote)," she said.

Poll watcher Susan Bottcher said voting was "steady" while she was manning the polls between noon and about 3 p.m. Tuesday, but she said voting at precinct 24, at Congregation B'nai Israel, is typically heavy.

"And the workers there were expecting things to really pick up between about 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.," she said.

Alice Wallace can be reached at 352-338-3109 or alice.wallace@gvillesun.com.

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