Election Day in-person voting was mostly smooth, but tensions have been rising

COVID-19 signs at a polling place in the state capital, reminding voters to stay 6 ft. away from others. Credit: Diane Rado

Throughout Election Day, Florida voters have had a relatively calm experience at the polls — but tensions have been brewing over myriad complications:

  • U.S Department of Justice staffers are in Florida to monitor for violations of federal voting rights law involving six counties: Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach;
  • A federal judge instructed the U.S. Postal Service to find undelivered ballots, including in South Florida, according to the The Washington Post;
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis deployed the National Guard in certain parts of Florida, according to Florida Politics. The National Guard will assist local law enforcement should problems arise, such as violence.

Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Caitlin Brown told Florida Politics, “At the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, and out of an abundance of caution, the Florida National Guard is activating a number of soldiers who will be pre-positioned in several locations across the state, standing by to assist local law enforcement and their communities as needed.”

Brown did not disclose where the troops were deployed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has campaigned frequently for Trump in Florida, devoted most of election day to interviews mostly with conservative media organs, beginning at 8 a.m. with Fox Radio host Drew Steele.

The rest of his official schedule for the day included these interviews: 8:25 a.m., Fox & Friends; 8:45 am., Ed Dean; 12;10 p.m., Newsmax; 1 p.m., One America News; 2:30 p.m., Rush Limbaugh; 3:45 p.m., Bill Hemmer of Fox News; 4 p.m., Jim Grimes of CBS 12 in West Palm Beach; 6:50 p.m., Ben Shapiro. He was to chat later with Preston Scott,  Glenn Beck, Fox, and SiriusXM Patriot.

In between, the governor met with chief of staff Shane Strum and deputy chief Adrian Lukis and had three scheduled calls with Secretary of State Laurel Lee.

Meanwhile, a federal judge ordered at midday that the U.S. Postal Service sweep mail processing facilities for undelivered ballots in a dozen postal districts nationwide, including South Florida, where 62 undelivered ballots were found among 180,000 pieces of backlogged mail, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The order came after the Postal Service filed data in court Tuesday showing 300,000 ballots nationwide had not been scanned to confirm they were delivered, even though the service says they were processed, the Times reported.

But earlier Tuesday, in the state’s capital, Tallahassee residents saw little excitement and almost no wait time to exercise their right to vote.

Supporters of local and national candidates were seen holding up signs for their preferred candidate at several precincts in Tallahassee.

Around 10 a.m. on the north side of Tallahassee, the parking lot at a precinct near Lake Ella was nearly full but had no lines. Volunteers with Biden-Harris signs were giving out water under a tent on the side of the building.

In Tallahassee’s Southside, at Jack McClean Community Center, a parking lot was packed with both younger and older voters. But, again, there was little wait time.

Rocky Hanna, incumbent Leon County superintendent, who is on the ballot, joined the small crowd at Jack McClean where people had signs.

On the campus of Florida A&M University, several students entered the precinct to vote around 11 a.m. And there were people holding signs representing various candidates.

Around 1:30 p.m., the polling place in Lafayette Park in the state capital was nearly deserted — about three or four people had walked in to vote.

There were no lines at all.

COVID-19 precautions were visible, including red, white and black signs outside of the door of the polling place. The signs said: ATTENTION: Please adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay at least 6 ft. away. STOP THE SPREAD.

A poll worker was disinfecting the area where people had filled in their ballot.

The polling place was the Sue H. McCollum Community Center in Lafayette Park, a neighborhood that, in some areas, had different views.

At one corner, lawns were filled with “Trump-Pence Make America Great Again” signs. But a few yards away, lawns were sprinkled with Biden-Harris 2020 signs.

That said, Leon County, home of the state capital, would not be representative of all counties in Florida. Some counties would have had lines to go to vote.
Overall, many Floridians had already voted, either by mail-in ballots or early voting.
Florida Phoenix reporters Laura Cassels, Michael Moline, and Diane Rado contributed to this report.
Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.
Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.