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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Election officials: Rain scared away voters -- and kept problems away



With rain and thunderstorms sloshing across the state all day, Primary Day voter turnout was dampened and likely won't exceed 20 percent, said Interim Secretary of State Dawn Roberts.

But while the memory of the bitter election battles of the past hasn't been washed away, a decade of reforms left the state's chief elections official more bouyant and confident than in many previous years.

"It was a very good day,'' Roberts said Tuesady night, after the last polls had closed in the Panhandle counties. "No major problems reported."

The wet weather, however, definitely kept turnout so low that no precincts reporting any lines.

The final voter turnout numbers aren't likely to exceed those of the last gubernatorial primary in 2006, when 20 percent of Florida's voters turned out, she said. In 2008, the presidential election year that featured only local and legiatlive elections on the primary ballots, turnout was 18 percent.

A handful of minor incidents were reported, Roberts said. A suspicious package was reported at a Brevard County polling site in Merritt Island. Police were called, the polling site was closed for over two hours, and voters were directed to a satellite site but no problems were found.

In Broward and Palm Beach counties, poll workers gave the wrong ballot to a handful of voters but the problem was fixed quickly. "Unfortunately it does occur it’s a triaing issue and we will continue to work with our supervisors and our poll workers,'' Roberts said.

Voters participating in the two-week early voting period in record numbers, she said, with 361,615 casting their ballots early. As of Monday night, 638,581 absentee ballots had been turned in and voters had until 7 p.m. Tuesday to turn in any remaining.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:23am]


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