PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — From security considerations to counting ballots and readying polling places, election leaders across the Tampa Bay area are working nonstop preparing for Tuesday’s election.
Leaders in Pinellas County spent the day sorting and tabulating mail-in ballots, certifying signatures and coordinating ballot drop-offs.
Pinellas County is getting national attention as a pivotal purple county.
Julie Marcus, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections says they are ready for the big day. Interest in this election is already surpassing all expectations, she says.
“Whether it’s voter registration, the number of mail ballots requested, the number of ballots returned or early voting. Every record so far has been broken,” Marcus said when comparing to previous presidential races.
445,000 people have already cast a ballot in Pinellas County, that’s around 63% of registered voters. Marcus expects more than 150,000 more voters in Pinellas to pack the polls on Tuesday.
Cherrie Smith of Largo dropped her vote off Monday.
“I think it’s phenomenal (to see such high voter turnout). I think it’s great that people are feeling empowered to be heard and to let their opinion matter,” she said.
Pinellas County is considered a purple county after voting for President Barack Obama twice in 2008 and 2012, then favoring President Donald Trump in 2016. How voters will cast a ballot this time around is a toss-up.
“It’s super exciting because you’re a part of history,” Marcus added.
Security is also going to be a major factor. Pinellas County has a team of cybersecurity experts on stand by to combat any online threats. You’ll also see more law enforcement at the polls and inside the Supervisor of Elections Offices.
“We’ll have law enforcement from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Clearwater Police and St. Petersburg Police helping to assist us with anything that may come up,” Marcus explained.
Voters tell ABC Action News they’re anxious to see who wins and thrilled to know so many people are participating in the process.
“When you vote, that’s how you change things in this country,” Barry Rose of Seminole said.
Tuesday night, you’ll see the first preliminary results come out just a few minutes after 7 p.m., and they’ll be updated approximately every 15 minutes.