Early voting total nearly doubles the count from 2012
Voter turnout was up just slightly for the primary this week compared to the August 2014 primary, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office data show. But the numbers of early voters and mail-in ballots continued to climb.
For this primary, the count of people who chose early voting was 9.7 percent higher than it was for the group that cast the most early ballots on any race in 2012, according to a Sarasota News Leader review of county records.
Figures posted late on the night of Aug. 30 show that 26.07 percent of the 294,199 registered voters in the county participated in the primary, casting 76,686 ballots.
Voter turnout in the August 2014 primary was 21.31 percent, the data show.
However, voter participation this week increased almost 6 percent compared to the turnout of 16.47 percent for the 2012 primary. Four years ago, the county had 270,353 people eligible to vote in that election.
However, the increase in the number of people registered to vote was 8.8 percent over the past four years, records show.
The partisan race that drew the most voters this week in Sarasota County was the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Marco Rubio; 40,604 ballots were cast in Sarasota County, with Rubio winning 28,557 of them. Developer Carlos Beruff was in second place, drawing 8,719 votes.
Data from Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent’s office showed Beruff getting no votes in this county. Based on a News Leader review of the precinct results, the widest margin of victory Rubio had over Beruff appeared to have been in Precinct 417, located at the Covenant Life Presbyterian Church on McIntosh Road in Sarasota. Rubio won 1,028 of the votes cast in the race there, with Beruff picking up only 288. The closest Beruff seemed to come to Rubio in vote comparisons was in Precinct 111, located at Light of the World International Church on Chapel Drive, just off Myrtle Street in north Sarasota. Beruff had 14 votes there to Rubio’s 18.
The nonpartisan race that drew the largest participation pitted incumbent Caroline Zucker against Teresa Mast for the District 2 seat on the School Board. A total of 68,671 votes were cast, with Zucker getting 52.43 percent of them.
A map provided by Dent’s website shows Zucker prevailing in precincts in the city of Sarasota and on Longboat and Siesta keys, among other areas. Mast was stronger in the cities of Venice and North Port, as well as more rural parts of the county.
The highest number of voters who marked a single item on the ballot — 73,084 — voted on the proposed
Florida constitutional amendment regarding property tax exemptions for solar power and other renewable energy equipment: 75.95 percent of them marked “Yes.” That measure won support from more than 70 percent of voters statewide, election results show.
As for spending in this primary: The Zucker/Mast race still was not as expensive as the November 2014 match-up of Ken Marsh, the former long-range planner for the Sarasota County School District, and Bridget Ziegler, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed earlier in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of long-time School Board member Carol Todd.
The Supervisor of Elections Office website shows that as of the latest financial reports — dated Aug. 26 — Mast had raised $57,585 in cash plus $3,070.56 in-kind contributions. She had spent $48,043.72.
Zucker had a cash total of $48,702, plus $4,123.30 in-kind contributions and a $2,500 loan. Her total expenditures were $50,072.18.
In November 2014, Marsh raised $50,980.24; had in-kind contributions of $618.52; and loans totaling $21,200. He spent $72,180.24, the records show.
Ziegler raised $51,532 in cash and reported in-kind contributions of $835.99. Her total expenditures were $51,532.
Voting early and by mail
As for early and absentee voting for this primary: Examining the breakdown of votes on the constitutional amendment, News Leader found a total of 35,405 absentee ballots and 9,430 early votes cast.
A review of races during the August 2014 primary showed the nonpartisan race with the highest number of votes cast was the one for the School Board District 4 seat, pitting incumbent Shirley Brown against Helen Wolff. The vote total was 50,614; 22,087 people mailed in ballots and 5,410 participated in early voting.
Therefore, the increase in absentee voting was slightly more than 6 percent for the constitutional amendment on the August 2016 ballot compared to the mail-in votes cast in the 2014 District 4 School Board race. A comparison of early voting in those same contests showed a 7.4 percent hike from 2014 to 2016.
During the August 2012 primary, the highest number of mail-in ballots among all races was 11,558. Those were cast in the Republican primary for the District 1 seat on the Sarasota County Charter Review Board; the winner was Anthony Sawyer.
The highest total of early votes in any race in August 2012 was 4,763; they were cast in the Republican primary for the District 3 seat on the Charter Review Board. The winner was Pat Wayman.