More raindrops than voters at some precincts on Election Day 2013


Supervisor of Elections, Pam Carpenter, left, waits for the results of the Gainesville City election to come in at the Supervisor of Elections office in Gainesville on Tuesday.

Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.

Gainesville residents went to the polls on Tuesday, some in the morning rain, on a day free of the long lines and confusion that marred elections in November. Here are some scenes from Election Day 2013.

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Bruce Delaney voted on his way to work at the University of Florida. He was in and out in less than three minutes.

"It was effortless," he said.

Delaney said he has been voting at Precinct 37, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4225 NW 34th St., since he moved to Gainesville in 1986.

Delaney, 67, said he voted to keep city elections in the spring for two reasons: the results are more accurate and educated voters turn out.

"The people going to the polls know why they're going," he said.

He also liked that it takes less time to vote in March than in November. "It takes less time than going in and buying a beer."

— Clare Lennon

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Deputy clerk Lou Bofani has been working elections for about seven years. On Tuesday, he got up at 4:30 a.m. to let his seven dogs out and get to Precinct 50 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1521 NW 34th St., by 6 a.m.

He had hoped clerk Nancy Parkinson, 73, would bring deviled eggs. She usually brings food, but she forgot the eggs this time.

Parkinson urged Gainesville residents to take interest in local elections because they affect them directly. Students are no exception, she said, and if property taxes go up, landlords will raise the rent for off-campus housing.

"It affects students; therefore, they should be interested and they should vote," she said.

She also encouraged young people to work the polls — it's a long day for older workers, especially when few voters turn out and the minutes crawl.

"The day is shorter when there's a lot of voters," she said.

— Clare Lennon

***

At about 1 p.m., Alfredo Espinosa, a University of Florida student and candidate for City Commission District 4, campaigned outside the Reitz Union. He was visiting this polling place because he was "just trying to go where the traffic is."

Espinosa stopped passers-by to ask for their vote. He told people where they could get a margarita if they brought in their "I voted" sticker.

Espinosa stopped to speak with 19-year-old UF student Jack Hackett about encouraging fraternity members to vote. Hackett, wearing a white shirt with the name "Alfredo Espinosa" on it, had been campaigning in front of the Reitz since 7 a.m.

— Brittany Ann Morrisey

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At about 5 p.m., Heather Brunges, 19, walked down the hall and into Precinct 31 at the Reitz Union. Less than three minutes later, she stomped back down the same hall.

"Well, guess who's not voting today?" she said angrily. "Me."

This would have been Brunges' first time voting in a Gainesville city election. The UF student decided to vote at Precinct 31 because of its convenience.

"It was on campus, and this is the only time I have today to vote," she said getting increasingly more frustrated. "I don't understand."

Brunges was unable to vote because her assigned polling location is in Precinct 18. "It's state law," she said, showing a card given to her by a poll worker.

McKeila Young, 18, had a very different voting experience.

The UF student described her first time voting in a Gainesville city election as "very successful."

"It was a quick in-and-out, simple process," she said.

— Emily Miller

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The first voter did not arrive at the Reitz Union until about 8 a.m., nearly an hour after polls opened, said Mayra Alanis, one of two election clerks at the site.

Alanis joked that she assumed they were students, or they were UF faculty who looked a lot like students.

One 21-year-old student wanted to vote, but she said she is registered at a different precinct. She did not have time to get to her polling place because she had classes until 5 p.m. and then a project after that.

— Brittany Ann Morrisey

***

By 9:45 a.m., about 55 people had voted at Precinct 38, the Senior Recreation Center at 5701 NW 34th St.

One voter returned after he had already voted and brought a box of Dunkin' Donuts.

The rain didn't stop 86-year-old Genevieve Mattson from voting at the Senior Recreation Center. She said voting was quick this time.

Lewis Mazzarella, 76, and his wife, Susan Mazzarella, 74, also vote regularly there. They chatted with the deputy clerk outside the location and said the experience was positive.

"The workers are just great," Susan said.

— Clare Lennon

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Voters sampled outside Precinct 61 at The Atrium senior living facility, 2431 NW 41st St., seem to favor challenger Ed Braddy for mayor.

Peggy Jellema said she voted for Braddy on her daughter's recommendation, after he had visited her daughter at her home.

One man who has lived in Gainesville for 49 years said he didn't like the changes that Mayor Craig Lowe brought to Gainesville. Another voter, a worker for the city, expressed support for Lowe.

One complaint raised was that Tuesday's charter referendum to enact election changes, which was defeated, would have given the current elected officials an extra eight months to their term, which more than a few voters said was unfair.

"It's a scam," said Laura Fuller.

— Carl McKinney

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A small but steady stream of voters turned out to cast ballots at First Lutheran Church at 1801 NW Fifth Ave. Michael Powers, Precinct 5 deputy clerk, said about 60 people had voted by mid-morning. He said that is average for other locations, but for this site, which is just a few blocks north of the university, it is low.

"It's still early," Powers said. "It could increase. Gotta think positive."

— Rachel Crosby

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Shortly before 9 a.m., incumbent District 4 City Commissioner Randy Wells dropped by the Thelma Boltin Center to talk to voters. It was his first stop on his planned tour of all the polling locations in town.

He said he was also going to make phone calls to forgetful voters.

A short time before, mayoral candidate Scherwin Henry also visited at the precinct. He said he was going to every polling location in the city, and this was his fourth stop.

"I'm just here to make sure I have just as much visibility as the other candidates," he said.

— Carl McKinney

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There were few voters at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development, the Precinct 25 polling place, at mid-afternoon.

One of them, Sarah Reintjes-Tolen, 27, a UF biology graduate student, asked a poll worker to watch her bike while she voted. She was gone for no more than three minutes.

Reintjes-Tolen said she decided to vote when she learned on NPR that the number of voters during city elections is small. "So I thought I'd try and add to it," she said.

— Audreyanna Loguerre

***

As voters walked in and out of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 2505 NE Eighth Ave., many stopped to greet each other.

Carolyn Hall, 59, has voted at Mount Carmel — a voting location for Precincts 13 and 30 — for several years. She said it's always run smoothly, and everyone is always helpful.

Keith Robinson, 38, rushed from work to get to the precinct to vote, but to his surprise there wasn't a line and he was able to get in and out quickly.

"I think if people knew it was this quick, they'd come out and vote," he said.

Robinson said he voted for Scherwin Henry for mayor because Henry raised his family in the community and knows what the community needs.

"A mayor or anyone in office should be a part of that community and live in that community," he said.

— Audreyanna Loguerre

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