2020 Election - Local

Congressman John Rutherford  (R-FL4) and Democratic challenger Donna Deegan
News4Jax

District 4 Republican Congressman John Rutherford has fended off a political challenge from longtime TV anchor and founder of one Jacksonville’s biggest marathons, Democrat Donna Deegan.

District 5 Republican callenger Gary Adler (left) and Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.
Adler campaign and U.S. House of Representatives

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL5) will be heading back to Washington, D.C. for a third term after defeating his Republican challenger, Jacksonville businessman Gary Adler by 67.18% to 32.82% with 94 of 105 precincts reporting at the time of this story's publication. 

With election day now over and around 11 million ballots cast, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee says the election went smoothly. WFSU’s Blaise Gainey has the details.

Lee says the more than 10 million of the votes cast in the election were made prior to Tuesday, and that helped make Election Day go mostly problem-free.

Tiffany Baker is heading for a seat on the second judicial circuit. The race has historically relied mainly on the outcome of the Leon County electorate. There, Baker held a more than 25,000 vote advantage as of 11 p.m. Tuesday. The attorney turned judge says she will now focus on increasing the public’s trust in the court system.

“My focus is on working hard to make any and every person of this community feel confident in our justice system," said Baker.

Baker is 35. That makes her the youngest and only 1 of 2 African American judges on the circuit.

GOP Candidates Win SWFL Legislative Races

Nov 3, 2020

Republican candidates in Tuesday’s election won every Florida House and Senate race covering a district in Southwest Florida.

State Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero) defeated Democrat Rachel Brown in the Florida Senate District 27 election. The district covers western portions of Lee county.

Fellow State Rep. Bob Rommel (R-Napes) will retain his State House District 106 seat, covering coastal Collier County stretching from Naples to Marco Island and Everglades City.

This post was updated Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 12:15 p.m.

Democrat incumbent Lois Frankel won reelection in the race for Florida's District 21 congressional seat, based on unofficial results Tuesday night.

Frankel, who previously served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives, secured her fifth term in Congress and represents West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, and Delray Beach.

Anderson Wins Race for Fort Myers Mayor

Nov 3, 2020

The race for Ft. Myers Mayor was extremely close, coming down to 53.35% to 46.65%, with Councilman Kevin Anderson as the winner. WGCU's Cary Barbor caught up with him.

CB: The race was pretty close. Did you expect that?

KA: I did expect it to be close. This was supposed to be a non-partisan race and my opponent turned it partisan. So we knew that was going to make it close.

CB: You're a retired police officer. How does your background as a police officer prepare for the job as mayor?

Outside of the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office on Jacksonville's Northside.
Sky Lebron / WJCT News

A voting machine at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Center polling location on Jacksonville’s Eastside was temporarily down on Tuesday morning, and while the problem was quickly fixed, some residents may not have cast their vote because of it.

Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Polls across the First Coast will be open until 7 p.m.

For voters who requested vote-by-mail ballots but haven't yet returned them to the election supervisor's office, it is too late to return them, and voting in person is your only option. Ballots were accepted at ballot drop boxes during early voting only and will not be accepted if postmarked on Election Day. 

Early voters wait in line on Oct. 19 at the Regency Branch of the Jacksonville Public Library.
CYD HOSKINSON / WJCT NEWS

The U.S. Justice Department is sending civil rights monitors to Duval and five other Florida counties to watch over the election process.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Hang on to that little “I Voted” sticker you get after casting your ballot. It’ll get you free stuff on Election Day this Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Voters in the Florida Panhandle joined their downstate neighbors to make their pick for president, Congress, and state and local government.

Republican Michelle Salzman is the new state representative from House District-1, garnering 65%  of the vote over Democrat Franscine Mathis. Salzman said the key was defeating incumbent Mike Hill in the August GOP primary.

Florida Democrats have cast 100,000 more ballots than Republicans but that gap is expected to shrink on Election Day. Samuel Santiago is the Florida Campaign Manager for All Voting is local. He expects the total number of ballots between the two major parties to be close and believes the election will be decided by those who aren’t registered to either party.

Early Voting in Florida wrapped up on Saturday, with all counties in the northwest part of the state reporting turnout at 55% or higher. There were more in-person early votes cast than through the mail.

Early turnout in Escambia and Walton Counties were at 55%, with Santa Rosa at 56. Okaloosa led the region at just over 60% as of Monday, according to Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux.

Despite previous concerns over a potential pandemic-related poll worker shortage, one elections office in Northwest Florida had so many applicants in the weeks leading up to early voting that some people were turned away.

Erin Rosenstock, 40, is one of many civic-minded Okaloosa County residents who responded to local and national calls for poll workers ahead of the general election.

“I had read a bunch about the need for poll workers," she said. “My concern is voter suppression in general.”

Vials with samples taken for the new coronavirus are seen before they are prepared for RNA testing.
Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

Two coronavirus testing sites in Jacksonville will be temporarily closed on Election Day.

BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

More than 60% of eligible Duval County voters have cast their votes ahead of Election Day. They are some of the more than 8.9 million Floridians who chose to vote early, in person, or by mail in this pandemic year.

Republican Voter, 76, Has Seen More Of His Ballots Rejected Than Anyone Else In Fla.

Nov 2, 2020
David Luckin / WJCT

Edward Palkovic, 76, who lives just south of Orlando, has diligently voted by mail as a registered Republican in 16 municipal, state and federal elections in Florida over the past decade. But 10 times, his votes didn’t count.

The election is about to be decided - finally. The runup to the final decision has been incredibly stressful, but it's possible to breathe deeply as the results come in.

The endless news cycle. The posts on social media. Months of mailers attacking candidates. Even signs that have peppered your neighbor's yard, that you haven't agreed with have been putting a lot of people on edge.

It's been nearly impossible to get away from it.

Voters line up on Oct. 19 to cast their ballots at the Southeast Regional Branch of the Jacksonville Public Library.
Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Nearly 55% of Florida voters have already cast their ballots ahead of the final weekend of early voting.

Andrew Harnik, Matt York / Associated Press

Trying to rally supporters in the final days before the presidential election; Eric Trump, Cory Booker, Jill Biden and Kamala Harris are all scheduled to campaign this weekend in Florida.

Ballot Measure To Limit Voting To 'Only A Citizen' Would Have No Real Effect In Fla.

Oct 30, 2020
An early voting location
Fresh Take Florida

A group is pushing to change the constitutions in Florida, Alabama and Colorado in next week's elections to require that "only a citizen" can vote. The group says it's a hedge against future political campaigns that might one day allow votes by non-citizens – even though that's already prohibited by law in Florida.

President Donald Trump addressed thousands at a mid-day rally outside Raymond James Stadium. Later, Vice President Joe Biden held an evening drive-in campaign event at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Keeping a 6-foot distance wasn't an option for the thousands of Trump supporters crowded together in the stadium parking lot and cheering for the president to win a second term.

State Senate races in Florida have become very expensive, and they’re meaner than ever. As the party in power, Republicans have a big money advantage, but some GOP Senate candidates may have to overcome a drag on the ticket caused by President Trump’s unpopularity.

Biden Campaign Shifts Focus To Black Youth Outreach

Oct 30, 2020

In the final days of early voting, the Biden Campaign has turned its focus toward getting young Black voters to the polls. Experts say that demographic is one of the least likely to vote.

Near Florida A&M University, the Biden campaign hosted an event called Sweets & Swag. Carrington Whigham is a FAMU Student, and HBCU fellow for the Biden Campaign.

Outside of the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office on Jacksonville's Northside.
Sky Lebron / WJCT News

Following a report by WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union that cited rules violations, Duval County Canvassing Board Chair Brent Shore has resigned from his role

Early voting sign
David Luckin / WJCT News

The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Florida has launched a pro bono legal hotline for ex-felons to have their voting rights status checked by a legal representative.

T-U: Duval Judge Leading Vote Counting Board Donated To Trump 12 Times, Despite Rules

Oct 29, 2020
Andrew Pantazi - The Florida Times-Union

A local judge and head of Duval County’s vote-counting board has donated repeatedly to President Trump’s re-election campaign and other Republican efforts, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

vote by mail ballot envelope
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

A new statewide coalition of four progressive Florida organizations is helping Black and Brown voters cure rejected vote-by-mail ballots.

The Supreme Court of Florida has denied a petition to block officials from counting votes cast on proposed Amendment 3. If approved the ballot initiative will change the state’s primary-election system to a top-two primary. The lawsuit was backed by Florida lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls who says the amendment could disenfranchise minority voters.

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