Business was brisk at Pinellas County’s 234 polling places Election Day, Nov. 6. As of 4 p.m., the estimated unofficial turnout was up to 65 percent.
According to a post on votepinellas.com, the unofficial average turnout at 19 sample-polling places was 20.9 percent. Added to the unofficial turnout figures for early voting and mail ballots of 44.19 percent, brings the total to just over 65 percent.
Nancy Whitlock, Elections Administrator, said everything was going good at the polls.
“It’s been really busy,” she said.
Whitlock did take a moment to talk about a few minor problems, including erroneous robocalls that went out Tuesday morning to people who had not returned requested mail ballots. The calls informed the voters that they had until 7 p.m. “tomorrow” to return their ballots to an Elections Office.
Whitlock explained that the calls were set up to go out on Thursday and Monday. The calls that went out Tuesday morning were ones left stuck in the queue from Monday night, Whitlock said.
“We corrected the message and sent calls to the same people,” she said. “Within the hour, we had connected with all but about 200.”
Whitlock apologize for the error.
“We’re really sorry this happened,” she said. “We apologize for any confusion.”
She doesn’t think the calls should cause a problem.
“Everyone knows today is Election Day,” she said.
She also talked about a complaint from the Florida AFL-CIO about poll workers improperly refusing voters at an early voting location Saturday, Nov. 4.
According to an email from the organization, “Deborah Clark, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, failed to reach-out to the public once the error was identified. The mistake, telling voters that they needed a single form of valid identification with both their photograph and their signature, caused hundreds of voters to be turned away from the polls.”
“That’s completely baseless,” Whitlock said.
She said although state law requires that voters show both photo and signature identification, it is not necessary to be on one document. In addition, anyone who does not have the proper identification is given the option of voting a provisional ballot.
“No one would be turned away,” Whitlock said.
She said anyone who chose not to vote a provisional ballot could return and vote using a mail ballot or at the polls on Election Day.
The Elections Office also took a little heat with at least one media source due to “surprise” hours on Sunday.
“That was no surprise,” Whitlock said. “It was planned all along.”
She said the Elections Office knew there would be a big interest in this election and had made plans to make mail ballots available as much as possible. A schedule of office hours was sent out Oct. 11 stating that the Elections Office would be open Sunday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As of 5:30 p.m., 238,533 mail ballots had been returned. Pinellas County set a record with 307,764 requests for the Nov. 6 election. The previous record of 258,606 ballot requests was set during the 2010 general election.
Mail ballots must be returned to an Elections Office or official drop-off location by 7 p.m. Voters can cast a mail ballot at any Elections Office through 7 p.m. Mail ballots cannot be returned to a polling place.