Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. The Buzz on Florida Politics

Election 2020: what happened during Florida’s last day at the polls

The scene from the polls in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando
People wait in line outside before voting at Bay Life Church in Brandon on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020.
1 of 44
People wait in line outside before voting at Bay Life Church in Brandon on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 3, 2020
Updated Nov. 4, 2020

TAMPA BAY VOTER GUIDE: 111 local candidates on the issues

AMENDMENTS: Florida constitutional amendments on the ballot, explained

WHEN WILL WE KNOW? A look at the rules on counts, recounts and when it’s official

7:00 p.m ET: Polls have closed in most of Florida, and all of Tampa Bay

The polls have now closed in all Florida counties within the eastern time zone (several counties in the panhandle won’t close until 8 p.m. eastern time). If you weren’t in line before 7 p.m., you won’t be allowed to vote. You can follow along with our politics team’s analysis of the presidential race and other major Florida races here, and find local results for races around the Tampa Bay area here.

6:48 p.m. ET: Police were called to Hillsborough polling places, but no arrests

Throughout the day, “energetic” campaigners drove their trucks past the polling location Town 'N Country Regional Public Library waving flags — some supporting President Trump, said Gerri Kramer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman. The police were called a few times, but no one was arrested, Kramer confirmed.

“There was some concern over there, but nothing that stopped voting,” Kramer said.

At about 5 p.m. a man arrived at the Jackson Heights Community Center to vote “belligerent, seeming to be inebriated,” Kramer said. He filled out multiple ballots and yelled at a poll worker, shoving them.The voter was removed and the polling location was cleared out, Kramer said.

Voters experienced a 10-minute delay. Tampa police were called, Kramer said, but the man was not arrested and the poll worker decided not to press charges. “The voter calmed down and was able to cast their ballot,” Kramer added.

— Bailey LeFever

6:37 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Times politics team begins live Florida analysis

As the Florida results start to come in, the Times politics team will be breaking down the biggest races in Florida, including the presidential election, with observations, analysis and more. Follow along, with political editor Steve Contorno, state government reporter Kirby Wilson and columnist John Romano on their live blog starting now.

If you’re looking for results for local elections in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties, go here.

6:17 p.m. ET: Pasco and Hernando top 2016 turnout; more Republican votes in Pinellas, more Dems in Hillsborough

With less than an hour left to go before polls close in most of the state, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties have all exceeded their 2016 turnout rates.

In bellwether Pinellas County, strong Republican turnout on Election Day has pushed the total number of Republican votes more than 6,000 votes higher than those cast by Democrats. As of about 6 p.m., the county was reporting an overall 78.3 percent turnout rate. The county still has an unknown number of mail ballots to be processed.

Across the bridge, Hillsborough County is reporting a 75.6 percent turnout rate so far with 706,000 votes cast, with Democrats holding a 36,000 vote advantage over Republicans.
Of course, party turnout may not be entirely indicative of which candidates voters are choosing.

Pasco County is reporting at 76.1 percent turnout with about an hour left to go. In 2016, its turnout rate was 73 percent. And Hernando County, which also had a 73 percent turnout in 2016, has just eked past that rate, reporting a 73.8 percent unofficial turnout so far.

— Allison Ross

6:01 p.m. ET: Election Spam (yes, the canned meat)

His daughter saved a can of “Election Spam” for three years. They’re eating it tonight Tampa Bay Times food critic Helen Freund has the story.

5:50 p.m. ET: Voting after work, and as the sun sets

Shelia Lepsky made the short walk from her home to the Gulfport Recreation Center to cast her ballot. She was one of a few doing so as the sun went down over the nearby water. “I’m leery about the mail system,” she said, explaining her decision to vote in person. “I think voting in person is the best way to make sure my vote counts.”

Despite the resurgent coronavirus pandemic, the 65 year old said through a white mask that she felt totally comfortable: things were appropriately spaced inside and there was hand sanitizer. “I love voting here because it’s serene,” she said. “You got the kids, the water.” Lepsky, who is not registered with a party, voted for President Donald Trump. A retired psychologist, she said she has concerns about Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s mental acuity. She also liked that Trump didn’t get the country into a war and backs the Second Amendment.

Carlos Martel, a 50-year-old chef at a Latin Restaurant in Brandon, and father of two adult kids said, said he came to Kings Avenue Baptist Church in Tampa came to cast his ballot after working all day. He voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Now he’s supporting Biden.

“We need less confrontation and more unity.  I want transparency and I think that we all deserve it. Our economy is doing well, yes, but, don’t you see the price?  Let’s back to normal”

— Josh Solomon, Juan Carlos Chavez

5:25 p.m. ET: Pinellas County surpasses 2016 turnout

With less than two hours before pols close, bellweather Pinellas County has surpassed 2016 general election voter turnout, hitting 77.94 percent turnout as of 5:23 p.m., with 554,513 total ballots cast.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus raised her arms and said "boom," happy with where things stood with five hours left before polls close.
Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus raised her arms and said "boom," happy with where things stood with five hours left before polls close. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

—Zack Sampson

5:15 p.m. ET: Republican turnout could close early-voting gap in Florida

Democrats had cast about 115,000 more ballots than Republicans moving into Election Day, but there’s been strong Republican turnout at the polls today. As of about 5 p.m., incomplete data from most counties shows that Republican turnout is up over Democrat turnout, according to FiveThirtyEight.com founder Nate Silver.

Of course, party turnout numbers may not completely reflect which candidates voters are choosing.One key to the presidential race between Trump and Biden will be Florida’s sizable number of no-party-affiliated voters. These voters make up roughly a quarter of registered voters in the nation’s largest swing state.

Turnout among these voters stood at about 52 percent heading into Election Day, according to data posted Tuesday morning by the state.

— Allison Ross

5:11 p.m. ET: Mail ballots flagged for rejection hit 21,000 in battleground states, including Florida

In Nevada, about 4,000 votes cast by mail so far won’t be counted unless voters can explain discrepancies between their ballot signatures and registration forms.

In Florida, the same is true for nearly 4,000 voters in three populous counties.

And in North Carolina, nearly 8,000 mail-in ballots have been flagged for rejection, many because they lack a witness signature.

As electoral workers begin processing votes across the country this Election Day, more than 60 million will be mail-in ballots that can be rejected if they have not been properly submitted. The rejection rate reached 1.4% in the 2018 general election and 1% in 2016, which proved decisive in some close races.

An early snapshot of rejection rates reported thus far in Nevada, Florida, North Carolina and other battleground states show a mixed picture: Although overall rejection rates are generally lower than in past elections, a study of the 2018 general election in Florida found ballots cast by Black, Latino and other nonwhite voters were discarded at more than twice the rate of their white peers.

— Los Angeles Times

4:47 p.m. ET: Florida National Guard activated by Gov. DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News today that he decided to activate members of the Florida National Guard at various locations in Florida on Election Day as a precaution in the event of post-election chaos.

"It wasn’t really for the election,'' he told Bill Hemmer of Fox News. “The election’s running smoothly. We don’t anticipate any problems. It was really just for anything after the election that may happen.”

The guard has not released details about the deployment but DeSantis said they will play the same role they did during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer if there are post-election protests in Florida cities. More details on this story here.

— Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

4:15 p.m. ET: Turnout high in Hillsborough, Pinellas

Voter turnout, or the percentage of all eligible voters who cast a vote, has already surpassed the 2016 election in Hillsborough County. As of 2:30 p.m., turnout in Hillsborough was at 72.14 percent, Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said. In 2016 it was 71.7 percent.

In Pinellas County, voter turnout was at 76 percent as of 4:30 p.m. It could surpass 77.39 percent, which was the turnout in 2016. There have already been more total votes cast.

Pinellas County has gone to the eventual winner of the presidential election in every election going back to 1980, except for the year 2000.

3:55 p.m. ET: In final hours, voters still dropping off mail ballots

With just over three hours left before the polls close in Florida, voters were still dropping off mail ballots at Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections elections office . Today is not too late — though it’s too late to send your ballot in the mail, and you’ll have to drop the ballot off at an elections office, not at your polling place.

Ashley Cox, 28, dropped her ballot off today at the office at 2514 N. Falkenburg Road in Tampa. “It’s nice to see a lot of people voting, whether we agree or not,” she said. “I hated that a bunch of my friends complained last time, but they didn’t do anything. But they voted this time. Now they have ground to stand on.”

Cox said she’s an independent voter and likes to wait until the last minute to decide how she’ll cast her ballot. She did not wish to disclose who she voted for but said she likes seeing more women in office, regardless of party line. “It’s not so much the party, but the person.”

Carmeleta Kruse, 74, of Thonotosassa, dropped her ballot off after her mail-in envelope ripped and her local polling site wouldn’t accept it. “It’s important,” she said. “We appreciate that corruption has been revealed and want it to continue being revealed and rooted out of our government,” she said. “I’m passionate about President Trump.”

AJ Casillas, 45, of Tampa, dropped off his ballot today. He didn’t vote for Biden or Trump. “I don’t really care for either of them,” he said.

So far, the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections office has received 5,755 vote by mail ballots today, which they will accept until 7 p.m. Ballots must be received in the office by 7 p.m. to be counted.

Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said he’s encouraged by turnout so far. “I think it’s been great,” he said, adding that Hillsborough county has added 85,000 new voters since the 2016 election.

Click here for details on where you can drop off a mail ballot in Tampa Bay today.

— Divya Kumar

2:51 p.m. ET: Judge orders search for undelivered mail ballots, including in Florida

MIAMI — A federal judge in Washington, D.C., issued an extraordinary Election Day order shortly after noon Tuesday, commanding the U.S. Postal Service to sweep mail processing facilities for undelivered ballots in a dozen postal districts nationwide, including South Florida.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the agency to “ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery.” He ordered sweeps of mail facilities between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and requested a status update by 4:30.

The order came after the Postal Service filed data in court Tuesday showing about 300,000 ballots nationwide that have not been scanned to confirm they were delivered, even though USPS says they were processed. More on this story here.

— Aaron Leibowitz and Rob Wile, Miami Herald

More than 4.6 million Floridians have already returned a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2020 general election. If you want to know how to track the status of your own mail ballot in Florida, Tampa Bay Times reporter Allison Ross has this explainer.

2:25 p.m. ET: Gov. DeSantis predicted Trump win

In a Tuesday morning interview with Fox & Friends, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared confident President Donald Trump will be in a good position to win Florida again.

“I think the president is much better positioned than he was in ’16. And of course, he did win the presidency and win Florida in ’16,” DeSantis said.

“I think you are going to see a decisive Republican advantage today and I just think it is going to wipe out the very small advantage that the Democrats had going into Election Day,” DeSantis said.

— Ana Ceballos, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

1:42 p.m. ET: First time voters, and a bit of confusion at USF

Hannah Yost, a sophomore studying animal biology at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus, tried to cast her ballot at the Marshall Center, but was told she had to live on campus to vote there. Her roommate was helping her find where to go. “I feel like it’s important because it’s the first time I’ve been able to vote.”

That’s a reminder, you can’t vote just anywhere. Any registered voter who needs to know where to vote in Florida can visit this website to look up their polling place.

Other students opted to vote by mail. Anna Hamman and Yuki Shao are first time voters. They both are registered to vote in Hillsborough County, but decided to vote early by mail. “You don’t want another four years of Trump. I’m not trying to get my rights revoked, bro,” Shao said, while walking the campus in Tampa this afternoon.

Chase Palmer, a graduate student studying art, said he also voted by mail to avoid potential crowds. “I made the mistake in 2016 to stay home and not vote. The era of uninvolvement is over.”

—Divya Kumar

1:29 p.m. ET: Pasco supervisor: There is ‘no credible threat’

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said, “It has come to our attention that an individual had posted a reference on Twitter to a potential bomb at the intersection of Tee Time Circle and Decubellis Road. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed there is no credible threat.”

— Allison Ross

1:15 p.m. ET: The scene around Tampa Bay: Floaties, floats and Jill Biden

Tampa Bay Times photographers and reporters have been capturing the scene across the Tampa Bay area since polls opened this morning. Here are some images.

Michele Rayner and Charlie Crist speak while waiting for a campaign visit by Dr. Jill Biden at the Thomas "Jet" Jackson Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
Michele Rayner and Charlie Crist speak while waiting for a campaign visit by Dr. Jill Biden at the Thomas "Jet" Jackson Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, campaigns outside precinct #101 at Port Tampa Park Community Center in Tampa on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020.
State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, campaigns outside precinct #101 at Port Tampa Park Community Center in Tampa on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Voter Jim Levy, 36, of Tampa, greets Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren outside precinct #101 at Port Tampa Park Community Center in Tampa on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020.
Voter Jim Levy, 36, of Tampa, greets Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren outside precinct #101 at Port Tampa Park Community Center in Tampa on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Bob Herron waves a flag featuring Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, on Election Day at The Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
Bob Herron waves a flag featuring Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, on Election Day at The Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
A voter who declined to give her name, poses next to a cutout of President Donald Trump, on Election Day at The Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
A voter who declined to give her name, poses next to a cutout of President Donald Trump, on Election Day at The Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

12:58 p.m. ET: Voters, officials and sorority sisters in St. Pete

Many voters showed up at Thomas “Jett” Jackson Recreation Center with Biden campaign swag including Jennifer Miselis, 41, and Vincent Lovko, 52 . Both of the St. Petersburg residents voted for Joe Biden and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. This year, they’ve been more politically active than in 2016—phone banking and texting prospective voters. “I normally don’t try to show my partisanship but in this election it feels really important,” Miselis said.

St. Petersburg Council member Deborah Figgs-Sanders at the Thomas “Jett” Jackson Recreation Center on Election Day.
St. Petersburg Council member Deborah Figgs-Sanders at the Thomas “Jett” Jackson Recreation Center on Election Day. [ BAILEY LEFEVER | Tampa Bay Times ]

Also among the crowd were local elected officials. St.Petersburg Council member Deborah Figgs-Sanders showed up to the recreation center donning a pink and green Biden/Harris shirt. The colors tie Figgs-Sanders and Harris together; they’re Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters. Though she initially supported Harris for the presidency, she was excited to cast her vote for Biden.

The councilwoman has been volunteering for the campaign since the Democratic National Convention and doesn’t plan on stopping her efforts until the polls close. She’s calling voters and picking up ballots for the rest of the day." I took the whole day off," she said. “I rescheduled all meetings. I’m not doing any business. We’re making sure we do all that we can to help before 6:59 tonight.”

- Bailey LeFever

12:45 p.m. ET: Lines on Election Day aren’t unusual, but distancing stretches them out

Long voting lines on Election Day aren’t unusual or necessarily a sign of that something nefarious is afoot.

They’re often the product of something as simple as heavier-than-expected turnout for an important election like Tuesday’s presidential, congressional and other races.

Long lines also develop when there aren’t enough voting machines or when poll workers don’t show up for their assignments, leading to understaffing.

This year, polling places are putting social distancing measures in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, with voters who are in line encouraged to keep at least 6 feet (1.83 meters) apart — automatically making for longer lines.

In Tampa Bay, lines have varied. Tampa Bay Times reporters have visited polling places with lines as long as 53 minutes (the Polish Center on Saturn Avenue in Clearwater) and other precincts where there was no line outside (Marjorie Park Marina and Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, First Church of the Nazarene in Tampa; ).

Charles Stewart, political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said the Presidential Commission on Election Administration “set the 30 minute standard, and lots of people now quote that as being on the upper end of what’s legit.” That commission said people shouldn’t have to wait longer than 30 minutes to vote.

“I did some survey work back in 2013 and 2014, asking voters how long they through was reasonable to wait, and most were happy with somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour. We have gathered data on people leaving lines, and correlated that with how long the lines are. Not surprisingly, there’s a correlation between the length of lines and the likelihood that people will leave lines, but we measured the length of lines in terms of people in line, not the length of the wait.”

— Associated Press and Tampa Bay Times reporter Allison Ross

12:30 p.m. ET: Hillsborough and Pinellas surpass 2016 turnout

As of noon on Election Day, more than 650,000 people have already voted in Hillsborough County and over 510,000 in Pinellas County, including mail ballots, early voting and Election Day voting in person. Those numbers already surpass turnout in those counties for the 2016 election. Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said by 12;30 p.m., 56,433 Hillsborough residents had voted in person today.

12:09 p.m. ET: State’s top elections official: Don’t rely on social media

Florida’s top elections official said this morning that county elections supervisors are experiencing “no reported issues” beyond some hiccups in two counties. Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the Division of Elections, said all polling sites in the state opened on time Tuesday.

“Polling locations are open, they are prepared and they are equipped for voters,” Lee said.Some sites in Lake and Lee counties had some “technology challenges” this morning, but the problems “will not prevent any voter from casting a ballot today.” By the time polling sites opened Tuesday, 9,069,661 Floridians — 62 percent of all registered voters — had already voted, she said.

Lee reminded voters who still plan to turn in vote-by-mail ballots not to turn those in to the post office. All such ballots must be turned in to their county elections supervisor’s main office or branch office by 7 p.m. in order to be counted. Misinformation and disinformation, however, “continues to be an active threat,” she said.

“Do not believe everything you read or see on social media,” Lee said.

Accurate information regarding elections, precinct location and voting should be found on county elections supervisors' websites. Early results will be posted after 8 p.m. eastern time, after polls close in the Panhandle, at FloridaElectionWatch.gov, she said.

— Lawrence Mower

11:55 a.m. ET: Jill Biden arrives at St. Pete polling place

Former Second Lady Jill Biden arrived at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center in St. Petersburg just before noon to greet a crowd of about 100 voters. “Florida is a very important state we’re hoping to win it,” she said. “We are not taking any vote for granted.”

— Bailey LeFever

11:45 a.m. ET: Friends vote together for different candidates

Friends Leah Phillips, 66, and Mark Zimmerman, 59, went together to vote in Clearwater, but their views could not be more different. Leah voted Trump in 2016 but she’s voting for Biden this year. She said Trump could have handled pandemic better and the prejudice she sees makes her worry for her grandkids' future. “I don’t like the lies. I believe in God and I believe what comes out of your mouth needs to match the truth”

Mark is a 2016 and 2020 Trump voter. He wants “to make sure life stays the way it is.” He says he votes straight Republican because they are more “work your ass off and get ahead.” He said “I’m very happy with what (Trump)'s done."

11:30 a.m. ET: Melania Trump votes in Florida

First lady Melania Trump has cast her vote, stopping in at a voting center in Palm Beach, Florida, close to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

First lady Melania Trump says goodbye to Wendy Sartory Link, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections after voting in Palm Beach.
First lady Melania Trump says goodbye to Wendy Sartory Link, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections after voting in Palm Beach. [ JIM RASSOL | AP ]

Asked why she didn’t vote with the Republican president last week, the first lady told reporters on Tuesday: “It’s Election Day so I wanted to come here to vote today for the election.”

The first lady waved and smiled to reporters. She was the only person not wearing a mask when she entered the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center to vote, presumably for her husband. It’s unclear if she wore a face covering inside the voting center.

— Associated Press

11:25 a.m. ET: Expert says Florida is a ‘toss up’

Once again, Florida is seen as a toss-up. Polls have shown the Republican incumbent and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden virtually tied. And while Democrats dominated vote-by-mail ballots, Republicans closed the gap with early in-person voting and are expected to turn out in higher numbers Tuesday.

“It’s going to be close,” said Michael Binder, who runs the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab. He said the margin of victory would likely be within 1 percentage point. “Two percent is a blowout of epic proportions in the state of Florida,” he said.

— Associated Press

11:15 a.m. ET: Scanners no longer slowing things at Precinct 401

A poll worker at Precinct 401, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church on Memorial Highway, said scanners there were persnickety but not enough to cause problems anymore. There are no lines at the moment. Scanners weren’t scanning earlier in the morning and some voters were asked to place their ballots in an auxiliary bin for counting later.

11:10 a.m. ET: Three hours, 35K votes

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections said that as of 10 a.m., 34,956 voters had cast their ballots in the county.

10:55 a.m. ET: First time voter in Tampa left Puerto Rico after Maria

First-time voter Kaila Medero, 39, came from Puerto Rico three years ago, after Hurricane Maria. She lives in Tampa with her husband, William Medero, 49, a construction manager.

Kaila Medero, 39, at her polling place at First Church of the Nazarene in Tampa, on Election Day 2020.
Kaila Medero, 39, at her polling place at First Church of the Nazarene in Tampa, on Election Day 2020. [ JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ | Tampa Bay Times ]

“I voted for Trump today because he’s the president that supports my conservative values and the right to live. He can be rude or unconventional but he’s real," Kaila Medero said. "I know that many Puerto Ricans don’t like him but, honestly, It’s not my problem. He never said anything bad or disrespect about my people. He just said bad things about traditional politicians.”

—Juan Carlos Chavez

10:35 a.m. ET: Tampa Bay Times polling average: Biden leads final polls

The Tampa Bay Times polling average, a simple, moving average of state polls from unique pollsters, says Democrat Joe Biden is ahead of President Donald Trump in a close race in Florida.

Entering today, Biden leads by 2.3 points. That’s based on a simple average of 18 pollsters' final polls — all collected since October 1, most in the last two weeks.

Read more on what those polls say, and how this average was calculated in our final update, here.

10:25 ET: Short on cash, but giving time in Clearwater

Republican Party of Pinellas County volunteer Cecilia Field is handing out ballot recommendations at the Clearwater Main Library in downtown Clearwater. Field was laid off in July and said she “couldn’t give much money, but by golly, I could give my time.” Field said keeping “judicial activists” off the Supreme Court, boosting the economy and anti-abortion are her top issues.

Sylvia Manning of Clearwater brought her 1-year-old granddaughter, Judore, with her to the library to vote. She’s supporting Biden, “because I want to see change. ... He supports education, new jobs and hopefully will guide us to a better future.”

Ariana Minaj, 28, is a Trump voter but she said what really drove her out to the pools is the referendum on whether Clearwater should lease the Landings golf course to build an industrial complex “My mother lives right there and I don’t want her to live next to an industrial park”

— Tracey McManus

10:12 a.m. ET: Pinellas, Hillsborough seeing turnout in early hours

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said via Twitter that more than 16,000 people had voted in person on Election Day at Hillsborough polling places in the first hour after the polls opened at 7 a.m.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus said that Pinellas County saw 7,100 voters cast a ballot in the first 30 minutes.

9:46 a.m. ET: Jill Biden headed to St. Petersburg polling place

Former Second Lady Jill Biden is scheduled to arrive at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center in St. Petersburg’s Jordan Park neighborhood at 11:45 a.m. to thank supporters.

Jill Biden will reportedly be joined by Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running to retain his District 13 Congressional seat, Pinellas County School Board member and District 7 Pinellas County Commission candidate Rene Flowers and Pinellas County Property Appraiser candidate Trevor Mallory.

Jill Biden, who visited the area over the weekend, has scheduled stops in Tampa and St. Petersburg where she’ll urge any stragglers to head to the ballot box.

9:22 a.m. ET: ‘I know the meaning of socialism’ in Tarpon Springs

Florida voter Mervat Harry said she’s planning to vote for President Trump because she believes he’s in best position to lead the nation for the next four years.

The 57-year-old Tarpon Springs resident, who was born in Egypt and lived in Sudan before moving to the United States, said she planned to cast her vote on Election Day. She is concerned about the country moving toward socialism.

“I know the meaning of socialism,” the former substitute teacher said.

Kickstarting the economy in the midst of a pandemic is also a concern, and she said she believes the nation will flourish under another Trump presidency.

“We need more jobs, we need people to go back to work,” said Harry.

Keegan Connolly, a 25-year-old registered Democrat from Tallahassee, said he cast his ballot during early voting on Friday for Joe Biden. Connolly said he trusts Biden to surround himself with the right people.

"Trump has been so corrosive to the presidency and to his ability to conduct foreign policy and maintain stable relationships both here and abroad, Connolly, a researcher at a non-profit said while explaining why he voted for Biden. “I feel he’s just more level-headed.”

- Associated Press

9:15 a.m. ET: Scanners won’t scan at Tampa site

There’s an “intermittent issue” that was preventing at least some of the scanners from scanning ballots at Precinct 401 in Tampa, said Gerri Kramer of the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections.

Voters can still vote and can put their ballots in an auxiliary bin to be run through the machines later, Kramer said.

The precinct polling place is Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church at 6100 Memorial Hwy.

Voter Correy Smith Hartzog noted the problem on Facebook and Twitter, saying she was concerned that poll workers took her ballot from her and tried to run it through the scanner themselves a number of times. She said there seemed to be little sense of urgency when she called the elections office about the problem and she tagged national news networks in her posts.

9:00 a.m. ET: Casting a vote for veteran respect

Curtis and Jennifer Pfiester of Brandon voted at the Bay Life Church and brought son Conrad, 4, with them.
Curtis and Jennifer Pfiester of Brandon voted at the Bay Life Church and brought son Conrad, 4, with them. [ JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ | Times ]

Curtis Pfiester, 35, and his wife Jennifer Pfiester, 32, brought along youngest child Conrad, 4, as they voted at the Bay Life Church in Brandon.

As a military veteran, Curtis said he’s taking this election very seriously.

“After serving more than 8½ years in the military, I think veterans deserve more respect. I heard some comments like, ‘If you were wounded in combat then you are a loser.'"

"So I’m taking those comments like a personal attack against us.”

- Juan Carlos Chavez

8:45 a.m. ET: School Board brings out Gibbs High grad

Tracy Holley, left, and her niece Lilly Wofford came to the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center to vote.
Tracy Holley, left, and her niece Lilly Wofford came to the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center to vote. [ TONY MARRERO | Times ]

Tracy Holley brought her niece Lilly Wofford, 21, to the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center on 28th Street South in St. Petersburg to vote for the first time.

A Gibbs High grad and Publix cashier, Wofford said one of the local races is important to her.

“I feel like our School Board should get better than it is right now.”

- Tony Marrero

8:05 a.m. ET: Excitement, enthusiasm and hope

Rachel Gundy, 34, a mother of four, voted Tuesday in Brandon.
Rachel Gundy, 34, a mother of four, voted Tuesday in Brandon. [ JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ | Times ]

There was excitement and enthusiasm among some of the people who showed up to vote in the first hour.

One of them is Rachel Gundy, 34, of Brandon, mother of four children. Gundy is hoping to see economic opportunities grow.

“We need better jobs."

- Juan Carlos Chavez

8:00 a.m.: ET: Clock out at Amazon, head to polls

Elsa Sage, 33, left work then got in line to vote early Tuesday.
Elsa Sage, 33, left work then got in line to vote early Tuesday. [ TONY MARRERO | Times ]

Elsa Sage, 33, who didn’t want her face photographed, voted at the St. Petersburg main library after a night shift sorting packages at Amazon.

She voted for Joe Biden because of her concern for the safety of LGBTQ people and people of color. She cursed Donald Trump with an expletive.

“He incites violence.”

- Tony Marrero

7:45 a.m. ET: Married 33 years, voting together

Daniel Hernández, 59, and Denise Hernández, 56, voted in Brandon for Joe Biden on Tuesday.
Daniel Hernández, 59, and Denise Hernández, 56, voted in Brandon for Joe Biden on Tuesday. [ JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ | Times ]

The coronavirus and the economy brought a Brandon couple to the polls Tuesday.

Daniel Hernández, 59, and Denise Hernández, 56, have been married 33 years. They voted for Joe Biden.

“I think Biden cares more," Daniel Hernández said. "He’s not a businessman. Businessmen tend to gear towards the business and the money side of it. Biden cares more for the families.”

- Juan Carlos Chavez

7:20 a.m. ET: Voting today is ‘tradition’

Todd Lizzote shows off his badge of participation.
Todd Lizzote shows off his badge of participation. [ TONY MARRERO | Times ]

Todd Lizzote, a 53-year-old welder who just voted at the main library in St. Petersburg, says he waited until Election Day to vote because “I’m a traditional Republican and I always vote on Election Day.”

He said he voted for Trump “because I believe in my freedom.”

- Tony Marrero

7:00 a.m. ET: Doors open, voting begins

Doors open as voting starts Tuesday at the St. Petersburg main library.
Doors open as voting starts Tuesday at the St. Petersburg main library. [ TONY MARRERO | Times ]

A few minutes before polls opened, there was already a lengthy line at St. Pete’s main library on 9th Avenue N. With the sliding of the front doors, the polls opened to a smattering of applause and a “woo-hoo!”

“Thank you guys for coming out,” a poll worker says, and then the line of voters begins to file in. One man raised his arms as he crossed the threshold like he just won a marathon.

- Tony Marrero

6:30 a.m. ET: It’s Election Day. Here we go.

An unprecedented number of Floridians have already voted, early or by mail, but the final stretch has arrived. The polls are open today to cast a ballot in person from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It could be a long night, or week, or month, before we know officially who will win the presidential election (and whose predictions will prove true), but there are dozens of other races in Tampa Bay and a handful of Florida constitutional amendments that could be called tonight.

The Tampa Bay Times will have reporters and photographers in the field at polling places and embedded with candidates, keeping an eye on how things are going throughout the day. Stay tuned to this live blog for updates and images as this historic Election Day 2020 unfolds across Florida.