© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Leon County Hits 60% Voter Turnout Before Election Day; Earley Expects No Chaos Tuesday Or Beyond

Staff with the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office review vote-by-mail ballots on November 2, 2020 - a day ahead of the presidential election.
Ryan Dailey
Staff with the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office review vote-by-mail ballots on November 2, 2020 - a day ahead of the presidential election.

On the eve of election day 2020, Leon County surpassed 60 percent voter turnout. The local supervisor of elections reported in its Monday evening update 65,498 vote-by-mail ballots had been received, and 64,942 people participated in early voting.

Despite reports of businesses and other buildings being boarded up in major cities with the expectation of post-election chaos, Leon County elections supervisor Mark Earley says there’s been almost no tension ahead of election day, locally. He doesn’t expect any going forward, either.

We’ve had no incidents of any note – just literally one or two isolated incidents where one voter and another who are maybe advocates for two different candidates are getting a little heated,” Earley said Monday, on the eve of the election. “But that’s nothing out of the ordinary at all, probably a little bit lower than what we normally see. Because I think everybody’s really trying to make it a calm endeavor.”

Earley says he’s in communication with the leaders of local law enforcement agencies to ensure a quick response if the need arises, but: “We are not pre-positioning police officers or sheriff’s deputies at the polling places. We don’t want there to be an armed force of any kind at the polling place, you know.”

The people of Leon County have made a peaceful voting process a priority, in Earley’s estimation.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there trying to heighten, I think, fears. But, you know, that’s all in the virtual world – in the real world here, everyone that I’ve seen has been smiling, it’s been a very calm and peaceful operation,” the elections supervisor said.

Earley also gave WFSU updates on voting numbers heading into the big day. The supervisor set out Monday to ensure all vote-by-mail ballots are counted: “That’s always the goal, and usually we can achieve it.”

But, because of high participation with mail-in ballots, Earley suspects that process may run into the days after Tuesday.

“This year, with the super high volume, it’s well more than double our normal volume, there’s a chance that we may have a few thousand that may have to carry into the Wednesday or Thursday,” Earley said.

On Monday afternoon, Earley said Leon County may have been rounding the 60 percent voter turnout mark across all voting methods, with election day still to go.

So, what does Earley think about how this election has gone so far, after so much was made of safety and logistical concerns for voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

“I think things have gone as well, if not better, than we ever expected,” Earley said. “It’s been a great relief to see that happening, frankly, because we were truly planning for all kinds of bad scenarios.”

Polls are open in Leon County from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.