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Coronavirus concerns impact voter turnout, volunteer numbers and polling locations

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Posted at 11:43 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 23:43:18-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- The voter turnout in Hillsborough County was about 31%, compared to the last presidential primary when turnout was 42%.

This year, more voters opted to vote-by-mail or early vote. President Donald Trump came away with 92% of the vote for the Republican Primary and Joe Biden beat out Bernie Sanders with 55% of the vote compared to Sanders’ 26%.

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Several voters told ABC Action News there was some confusion about where to vote, after certain precincts were moved to new polling locations. Some of what was because Governor Ron DeSantis banned polling locations from assisting living facilities.

Other locations — simply didn’t want to risk having so many people in one place, forcing the county to find alternatives.

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Shaina Windsor was among those who showed up at the wrong polling location before heading to the one designated for her precinct. Windsor is currently out of work due to coronavirus because she is a DJ in Tampa.

When asked if she thought twice about going out to vote on election say, she said, “No, not at all, I just wanted to make sure I get in here and vote as quickly as I can and do what we all should be doing right now — is voting. And get back home and wait until this all blows over!”

At the time she went inside, Windsor said it was unfortunate to see the voting booths were completely empty. Last week, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office said about 120 volunteers dropped out from Election Day due to coronavirus, but since they overstaffed — there were enough people to cover all of the polling locations.

At polling locations across the county, there were extra hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes on hand, voters could bring their own pens and there were limits to how many people could go inside to vote at once.

At the Elections Service Center on Faulkenburg Road, there was a drive up to drop off your ballot outside.

“Every vote counts and it makes a big difference,” said Windsor.

ABC Action News also spoke with voter Sharon Sandlin at Southshore Regional Library in Ruskin, who said nothing was going to stop her from voting.

“This is a patriotic day, it’s a privilege to get to vote. It’s an honor. It’s our God-given right to vote,” said Sandlin.

Official election results will be certified March 27, allowing 10 days for overseas ballots to arrive.