On August 18, Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, which covers Broward County and a portion of Miami-Dade, will have its primary elections. As Broward nears 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 800 deaths, voter turnout is an increasingly serious concern for candidates and election officials.
In Broward’s 2018 primary, only 23.8 percent of eligible voters participated in the election, and the results were just as underwhelming in the general election.
Low voter turnout, voter suppression and gerrymandering have long discouraged voters in the area. However, this is the first time in contemporary American history that elections will take place during a deadly global pandemic.
Jen Perelman, a Democrat running for Congress in the district against incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz, says that her campaign is strongly encouraging people to register for vote-by-mail. The deadline to request a ballot is this Saturday.
Broward, which comprises most of the district, has a history of election problems. Back in 2016, then-Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes destroyed paper ballots despite a recount request, Now some voters are concerned about the integrity of vote-by-mail ballots.
Brad Ashwell, Florida’s statewide voting rights director for All Voting is Local, says that despite the ongoing pandemic, voting in person is still the best way to ensure that one’s ballot will be accurately counted.