TAMPA — Turnout has been low and Mayor Jane Castor doesn’t have an opponent on the ballot, but Tampa voters will have the chance today to decide six City Council races and four charter amendments.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
Here is a how you can find your polling location. Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer’s office has also posted precinct changes that can be found with the same link.
The last time Tampa had an election without a mayoral race was 2015, when Bob Buckhorn didn’t face an opponent on the ballot. Back then, the turnout of early voters and those mailing in their ballots was just over 9%.
This year, turnout is even lower, at 7.2% after early voting ended Sunday.
One notable difference between the two elections is the absentee or mail-in vote. In 2015, 16,971 people voted by mail. That figure was 10,516 for this election as of Monday morning.
Under a change in state law, voters now have to request absentee ballots at every election cycle. Previously, voters could request to receive them automatically for every election up to four years.
The low turnout so far has frustrated some candidates.
“I just don’t know why people don’t seem to be interested in local politics,” said citywide District 1 council candidate Chase Harrison. “Our teams have been out knocking on doors and we get a lot of, ‘Oh, there’s another election? What election is this?’”
District 2 candidate Michael Derewenko, also campaigning for a citywide seat, said one of the main reasons he ran was to persuade new voters to cast a ballot. He thinks the paltry turnout may be the result of voter fatigue after last year’s midterm elections for state and federal offices.
“Three elections in eight months? It’s taxing on the voters,” Derewenko said.
Council chairperson Joseph Citro, running for reelection to the District 1 seat, said the lack of voters so far shows the disinterest in four proposed amendments to change the city charter. If approved, some would place new limits on mayoral power.