ECB Publishing, Inc.
In keeping with the national trend, voters in Jefferson County turned out in record numbers for the 2018 mid-term election, handing noteworthy victories to local candidates Sheriff Mac McNeill, commission incumbents Betsy Barfield and Gene Hall, and City Council newcomer Gloria Cox.
Meanwhile, in the statewide races, the clear winners were Ron DeSantis, Republican, Governor; Ashley Moody, Republican, Attorney General; Jimmy Patronis, Republican, Chief Financial Officer; Neal Dunn, Republican, Congressman District 2; and Al Lawson, Democrat, Congressman District 5.
Two state races remained undecided as of Wednesday, being too close to call. These were the US Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott, and the Commissioner of Agriculture race between Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nicole “Nikki” Fried.
“It may teeter one way or the other,” Bishop said of the two races on Wednesday morning, Nov. 7, adding that county election offices had until Saturday to certify the counts officially.
“We may yet have to do a machine recount,” he said of the two close races.
In terms of the 12 amendments on the ballot, Amendment 1, the extra homestead exemption, alone failed to pass. Otherwise, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the other 11 amendments, which required 60-percent voter approval for passage.
The Jefferson County Elections Office reported a 75.64-percent turnout, which translates into 7,404 of the county's 9,789 registered voters having cast ballots.
“That's very, very good for a midterm election,” Bishop said. “For a midterm, it's one of the highest we've had. Usually, we're in the 60s.”
As opposed to presidential elections, where the turnout is about 81 or 82 percent, he said.
The only other county to surpass Jefferson County in voter turnout this election was Sumter County, Bishop said.
Local voters' preferences relative to the candidates and the amendments, moreover, were largely aligned with the statewide results.
Following are more results of the various races and amendments:
US Senator: Although the outcome of this race remained undecided at the state level as of Wednesday, Scott won locally. He received 3,699 votes (50.35 percent), to Nelson's 3,624 (49.33 percent). Additionally, 23 votes (0.31 percent) were cast for write-in candidates. All told, 7,356 votes were cast in this race.
Congressional District 2: Republican incumbent Congressman Neal Dunn beat Democratic challenger Bob Rackleff locally. Dunn received 432 votes (64.77 percent), to Rackleff's 235 (35.23 percent). This congressional district encompasses parts of only three of the county's 16 precincts. All told, 667 votes were cast in this race.
Congressional District 5: Democratic incumbent Congressman Al Lawson outperformed his opponent, Republican Virginia Fuller, locally. Lawson received 3,484 votes (52.63 percent), to Fuller's 3,136 (47.37 percent). This congressional district encompasses all 16 of the county's precincts. Total votes cast were 6,620.
Attorney General: Republican Ashley Moody won locally with 3,992 votes (55.10 percent). Her Democratic opponent, Sean Shaw, received 3,138 votes (43.31 percent). A third candidate, Jeffrey Marc Siskind, NPA, received 115 (1.59 percent). All told, 7,245 votes were cast in this race.
Chief Financial Officer: Republican incumbent Jimmy Patronis won locally, receiving 3,911 votes (54.49 percent). His opponent, Democrat Jeremy Ring, received 3,260 votes (45.42 percent). And write-ins accounted for 7 votes (0.10 percent). All told, 7,178 votes were cast in this race.
Commissioner of Agriculture: Although this race was also in question at the state level on Wednesday, Caldwell won locally, receiving 3,877 votes (53.78 percent), to Fried's 3,332 votes (46.22 percent). All told, 7,209 votes were cast in this race.
Amendment 1, failed: It would have increased the amount of home value exempted from property taxes by not counting the assessed value between $100,000 and $125,000. The local votes were 3,475 yes (48.71 percent), and 3,659 no (3,659). Total votes cast: 7,134.
Amendment 2, passed: It makes permanent the 10-percent cap on increases in the taxable value of non-homestead properties, which cap was was set to expire next year. The local votes were 4,312 yes (60.80 percent), and 2,780 no (39.20 percent). Total votes cast: 7,092.
Amendment 3, passed: It gives Florida voters, rather than the Legislature, the power to decide if gambling will be expanded in the state. The local votes were 4,860 yes (67.98 percent), and 2,289 no (32.02 percent). Total votes cast: 7,149.
Amendment 4, passed: It automatically restores the voting rights of felons who have served their time and done their parole. The exception is those who commit murder or felony sex offenses. The local votes were 4,322 yes (60.57 percent), and 2,813 no (39,43 percent). Total votes cast: 7,135.
Amendment 5, passed: It requires a supermajority, or a two-thirds majority vote, for the Florida Legislature to impose, authorize or raise state taxes or fees. The local votes were 4,071 yes (57.70 percent), and 2,984 no (42.30 percent). Total votes cast: 7,055.
Amendment 6, passed: It gives victims of crime a bill of right in the state constitution. It also raises the mandatory retirement age of judges to 75 and requires that judges not to consider a state agency's interpretation of the law when interpreting the law. The local votes were 3,996 yes (56.42 percent), and 3,087 no (43.58 percent). Total votes cast: 7,083.
Amendment 7: It requires college trustees boards and the state university system's Board of Governors to attain a supermajority to raise college or university fees. It also allows death benefits and tuition discounts for surviving family members of first responders and those in the military who are killed in the line of duty. The local votes were 4,292 yes (61.14 percent), and 2,728 no (38.86 percent). Total votes cast: 7,020.
Amendment 8 was taken off the ballot by the courts.
Amendment 9, passed: It prohibits offshore oil and gas drilling and also prohibits vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces. The local votes were 3,874 yes (54.88 percent), and 3,185 no (46.12 percent). Total votes cast: 7.059.
Amendment 10, passed. It moves the legislative session in even-numbered years to January. It also requires the state to establish a counterterrorism office and a Department of Veterans Affairs. Finally, it requires all counties to have an elected sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and clerk of court. The local votes were 4,018 yes (57.86 percent), and 2,926 no (42.14 percent). Total votes cast: 6,944.
Amendment 11, passed: It deletes antiquated language concerning a repealed high-speed rail amendment and an unconstitutional ban on certain aliens owning land. It also also requires individuals accused of a crime to be tried under the law as it existed when they were arrested. The local votes were 3,778 yes (55.14 percent), and 3,074 no (44.86 percent). Total votes cast: 6,852.
Amendment 12, passed: It bans elected officials from lobbying the bodies they were elected to for six years after they leave office. Previously, the time period was two years. It also prevents public officials from using their offices to receive “disproportionate benefit” for themselves, their families or their businesses. The local vote was 4,552 yes (65.06 percent), and 2,445 no (34.94 percent). Total votes cast: 6,997.
Amendment 13, passed: It ends greyhound racing in the state by 2021. After that, racetrack owners will be allowed to continue operating only casinos and card games. The local votes were 3,374 yes (47.38 percent), and 3,747 no (52.62 percent). Total votes cast: 7,121.