Aug. 23 election turnout highest ever, going back to 2002, for a Primary Election in Sarasota County

Close to 37% of county voters cast ballots

In August 2018, almost 32% of Sarasota County’s voters cast ballots in the Primary Election. Going back to 2002, that was the highest turnout percentage documented, Rachel Denton, then the communications and voter outreach manager for the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office, told The Sarasota News Leader.

This year, voters exceeded that 2018 percentage before 5 p.m. on Primary Election Day, which was Aug. 23. As of 4:46 p.m. that day, a graphic provided on the Supervisor of Elections Office website showed the turnout had reached the 33.63% mark, with 33,695 ballots cast at precincts having been counted, plus the early voting and vote-by-mail ballots.

Unofficially, the Supervisor of Elections staff reported on Aug. 24, the turnout for this latest primary was 36.77%. The number of registered voters eligible to participate in the Primary was 349,554, the website noted. Altogether, 128,532 ballots were cast, an updated, Aug. 25 graphic showed.

In the August 2018 Primary, the number of registered voters was 313,824, Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner reported at that time.

In response to a News Leader inquiry, Paul Donnelly, director of communications and voter outreach for the Supervisor of Elections Office, wrote in an Aug. 24 email, “There were a few moments of excitement last night, namely our website crashing for a bit due to a vendor issue.” Otherwise, he indicated that the election ran smoothly.

A pie chart on the Supervisor of Elections Office website illustrates the number of vote-by-mail ballots returned — 69,645; the number of early votes — 15,441; — and the number of votes cast in person — 43,445 for the Primary

Based on that data, the News Leader calculated that almost 54% of the voting was done by mail.

A separate graphic on the Supervisor of Elections Office website showed the breakdown of votes by party. As of 9:41 a.m. on Aug. 25, these were the unofficial data: Registered Republicans cast 62,457 ballots; registered Democrats, 47,423; and others — both those with no party affiliation and those registered with other parties — cast 18,652 ballots. Thus, close to 49% of all votes came from Republicans in Sarasota County, compared to the nearly 37% of the total from Democrats.

Yet another set of data show that the number of Republicans voting by mail was 24,393, compared to the 28,382 who voted on Primary Election Day.

Conversely, 34,639 Democrats cast their ballots by mail, compared to the 8,871 who voted in person on Aug. 23.

Further, the peak voting time at precincts on Aug. 23 was the hour from 5 to 6 p.m., a graph notes.

Few precincts saw turnout above 50%

Additionally, the Supervisor of Elections Office staff provided a chart listing each precinct, its number of registered voters, and the percentage of those citizens who participated in the Primary Election.

A News Leader review of that data found that Precinct 303, which is located at Twin Lakes Park on Clark Road in Sarasota, had the highest turnout: 57.1%. However, it had only 28 registered voters, based on details the Supervisor of Elections Office provides. Of those, 26 of those are white; the other two, Hispanic, the website notes.

The precinct with the second highest level of participation in the Primary Election was 321, located at New Life Church, which stands at 5800 Tamiami Trail S. in Venice. Altogether, 50.8% of its voters cast ballots.

The website says that that precinct has 4,898 registered voters, with 4,585 of them white, 53 Hispanic, and 23 Black. A group of voters listed as “Other” for demographic purposes accounts for 237 of the total. For the Primary, the number of registered voters eligible to participate was 4,868, the Supervisor of Elections office records show.

Additionally, Republicans outnumber Democrats in that precinct by more than 2:1 — 2,380 Republicans to 1,078 Democrats. Another 1,056 of the voters have no party affiliation.

In third place for turnout, Precinct 223 saw 50.7% of its registered voters participate in the Primary. It is located at Southside Baptist Church, which stands at 2035 Magnolia St. in Sarasota. Magnolia Street is just east of U.S. 41 and north of Siesta Drive, a map points out.

Precinct 223 has 1,956 registered voters, the Supervisor of Elections Office says, with 1,699 of them white, 65 Hispanic, 30 Black and 162 “Others.” There, Republicans also outnumber Democrats — 786 to 551 — with 333 voters having no party affiliation, the Supervisor of Elections Office website showed on Aug. 25.

For the Primary, the eligible voter figure was 1,952.

The only other precinct with more than 50% of voters participating in the Primary was 109. That is located at the Light of the World International Church, standing at 3809 Chapel Drive in Sarasota. Chapel Drive is just east of Sarasota Jungle Gardens and west of U.S. 41, in North Sarasota.

Its participation level was 50.1%.

On Aug. 25, the Supervisor of Elections Office website said that precinct has 2,315 registered voters, 2,010 of whom are white, with 83 Hispanics, 41 Black individuals and 181 “Others.” For the Primary, the voter total was 2,305.

Further, the total number of Democrats — 1,006 — is nearly double the figure for Republicans — 549. Another 414 voters are listed with no party affiliation.

The precinct with the lowest turnout for the Aug. 23 Primary was 325, with 19.2%. It is located at the Friendship Club of Warm Mineral Springs, standing at 12125 Warm Mineral Springs Drive in North Port.

The total number of registered voters as of Aug. 25 was 1,025, the Supervisor of Elections Office website noted. Of those, 860 were white; 61, Hispanic; 39, Black; and 65 “Other.” Republicans totaled 435, compared to 147 Democrats and 264 with no party affiliation.

For the purposes of the Primary, Precinct 325 had 1,009 voters eligible to participate.