Florida sees spike in vote-by-mail during pandemic Primary Day

Posted at 11:37 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 07:40:54-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Floridians overwhelmingly opted against polling places in favor of mail-in voting this Primary Day, contributing to a 73 percent spike in mail ballots from 2016.

“It’s just easy and you can come at your own convenience, you don’t have to stand in line,” said Victoria Lohmann, who delivered her mail-in ballot to the Pinellas County Election Service Center in Largo.

ABC Action News documented a stream of vehicles passing through the Election Service Center Tuesday afternoon.

Pinellas County set up 23 locations for people to deliver mail-in ballots, each one is reportedly three miles or fewer from every resident.


According to county officials, more than 180,000 people utilized mail ballots, that’s 50,000 more than Primary Day in 2016.

“The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on the people to stay safe,” said Dustin Chase with Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. “There’s no better way to stay safe than voting in the comfort of your own home.”

Across the Howard Frankland Bridge, Hillsborough election supervisor Craig Latimer counted more than 155,000 vote-by-mail ballots, which shattered the 2016 count of 84,655 votes.

For those who chose to vote in-person, polling places offered socially-distant booths, single-use pens and plenty of hand sanitizer.

“It was a very quick and easy process,” said Jane Talbot of St. Petersburg. “There were no lines and I was in and out in a couple seconds.”

ABC Action News political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus called Tuesday’s Primary Day a successful test-run for this year’s General Election.

Dr. MacManus expects voter turnout to triple come November.

“Floridians stepped up to the plate and pretty much hit a home run,” said Dr. MacManus. “That’s good news because there was a lot of uncertainty and fear.”