Voter turnout strong in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Michael

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 7, 2018

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Voter turnout in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Michael was pretty strong, considering the challenges many people in those areas are facing.

Turnout in Leon County was higher than it's been in 25 years at 66 percent. In some storm-ravaged counties, it's even higher than that.

Gadsden County Supervisor of Elections Shirley Green-Knight says the 67-percent voter turnout there is considered high. She says because there are still a lot of displaced families, she believes turnout would've been even higher if it weren't for the storm.

Chattahoochee resident Regina Williams says her tin roof flying off, her ceiling sinking in and bedrooms being damaged from the hurricane didn't keep her from voting.

"Actually, I did mine early so I wouldn't have to be in the long line waiting to get my opinion on how I think things should be," she said.

Green-Knight says extended early voting hours helped a lot with the high turnout number in Gadsden County.

Turnout ranged from 52 percent to 70 percent for the eight counties ravaged by the hurricane.

Jackson County's voter turnout was 57 percent.

Tony Rogers lives in Sneads. He says he had to clear out a mile and a half of road just to get out of his home after Hurricane Michael. So, voting was not on his priority list.

He said, "It's just another thought that didn't cross my mind. I just didn't have time to go by there. I've been busy fooling with my own place and helping everybody else trying to get straightened out. It's just been a rat race."

There were long lines for voting in Panama City Tuesday night, which was one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. Voter turnout still reached 52 percent. But, it was the lowest turnout of the most ravaged areas.

Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Anderson says he's upset that people who came to help after the storm could not vote.

"Many of the first responders who've come to help this community were not able to cast ballots here. Is it just supposed to be tough cookies for them? I have a real problem with that," he said.

Calhoun County's turnout was 53 percent.

The supervisor of elections, Sharon Chason, said, “Turnout was very similar to the 2014 midterm election. The rain didn’t seem to slow things down."

However, she said their tent voting site in Kinard was “hot and leaky.”

All of the most impacted counties voted for Ron DeSantis for governor, except for Gadsden County.

DeSantis picked up 83,007 votes in the hard-hit counties. Gillum picked up 42,025 votes in the counties, according to the Florida Secretary of State's website.

Lemuel Jackson, a Gadsden County voter, said, "It wasn't exactly what we were looking for. But, I accept it for what it is."

Whether the election went their way or not, many say they're glad to have taken the time to make their vote count.

Breakdown of Voter Turnout in Hurricane-Ravaged Counties for Florida Governor

Gadsden County
Turnout: 67.4%
DeSantis: 31% (6,201)
Gillum 68% (13,699)

Jackson County
Turnout: 57.45%
DeSantis: 67% (10,761)
Gillum: 31% (5,005)

Calhoun County
Turnout: 53.37%
DeSantis: 78% (3,567)
Gillum: 20% (917)

Liberty County
Turnout: 62.55%
DeSantis: 77% (2,058)
Gillum: 20% (526)

Franklin County
Turnout: 70.8%
DeSantis: 65% (3,504)
Gillum: 33% (1,790)

Bay County
Turnout: 52.77%
DeSantis 72% (45, 646)
Gillum 26% (16, 713)

Gulf County
Turnout: 58.15%
DeSantis: 72% (4,256)
Gillum: 26% (1,512)

Washington County
Turnout: 57.72%
DeSantis: 78% (7,014)
Gillum: 20% (1,863)

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