As coronavirus precautions intensify, Orange County elections continue Tuesday as planned

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IMAGE VIA ORANGE COUNTY SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS
  • Image via Orange County Supervisor of Elections
Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles says Tuesday's election is proceeding as planned, if not as usual, with poll workers taking extra precautions to clean and sanitize election machines and polling locations.

He says turnout during the early voting period, which began March 2, has been particularly low for various reasons, most recently the coronavirus pandemic that led the CDC on Monday to recommend closing gatherings and dining establishments of 50 or more people.



"Turnout for this election is pitiful," said Cowles on Thursday. "I just looked at the number ... and we did 700 less voters today than we did in 2016 on the same day."

He says there is no one cause, with "spring break, the virus, or the political atmosphere" affecting each voter. "But vote-by-mail, wow ... we’re only even with what we did in 2016, and we’ve got more voters now."



Sunday was the last day for early voting, meaning that to vote now, you have to show up to your assigned polling place on Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. You can find your polling place in Orange County here, in Seminole here, and in Osceola here. The low turnout means your vote could matter even more.

Democratic primary voters will see 16 candidates for president, many of whom dropped out of the race after the early-December ballot deadline. Republican voters will see President Donald Trump's name and those of his own primary opponents, including former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who is still challenging him.

No party affiliation voters (NPA) won't get to choose between the parties' presidential candidates, and even many Democrats and Republicans feel their March vote in Florida won't really matter in the presidential race – but voters of any party registration can vote in the critical local races, which ultimately matter more to local residents' daily lives.

"Remember we have six city elections going on in Orange County," says Cowles. "We don’t want them to suffer." These municipalities are holding elections on the same ballot on Tuesday:

• City of Apopka, Council Seats 3 and 4
• City of Belle Isle, City Council District 7
• Town of Eatonville, Council Seats 4 and 5
• City of Maitland, Council Seats 2 and 4
• City of Winter Garden, Commissioner District 1 and Charter Questions
• City of Winter Park, Commissioner Seats 1 and 2, and Charter Questions

Edgewood, Oakland and Windermere will not have elections because all of their open seats are unopposed, and Ocoee and Orlando have no elections Tuesday.

The state division of elections and Cowles both say it's important for voters to confirm their voting location in advance, rather than guessing or going to a location that worked in the past. Voters are welcome to bring their own pen to mark their ballot if they want, and can also bring wipes and hand sanitizer. Voters can also have a designee pick up their vote-by-mail ballot on Monday, to complete and by Tuesday.

Don't forget to wear your "I Voted" sticker on Tuesday for unofficial discounts and specials, like free cookies at 4 Rivers.

Voters with any questions are asked to call their county's supervisor of elections office. In Orange County the number is 407-836-2070. In Seminole it's 407-585-8683, and in Osceola it is 407-742-6000.

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