Early voting in the House District 7 special election got off to a slow start last weekend, but the numbers were picking up as the week began.
Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon said a “light” Saturday and a similar Sunday, never a strong day for voting, was followed by a Monday in which early voting numbers doubled before the end of the day.
“It is picking up,” Hanlon said Monday. “Today we have already done 70 voters, more than we did over the weekend, and we have several more hours left today.
“I have hopes we’ll still have a strong turnout.”
One bit of fuel, Hanlon added, was that mailed sample ballots hit most residential mailboxes Monday.
“That always triggers a turnout,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon added that Gulf County’s totals through three days of early voting, 6 percent of more than 10,000 eligible voters are similar across the 10 counties of District 7.
As of Monday, more than three times as many voters, 461, had voted by mail compared to the 183 had voted by early ballot.
The District 7 race pits Port St. Joe native Jason Shoaf, an easy winner in the four-way Republican primary, against Democrat Ryan Terrell, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Hanlon noted the GOP primary drew 29 percent of the county’s eligible Republican voters in April.
“I think we will end up there or maybe higher,” Hanlon said, adding that a single item special election ballot typically secures a muted voter turnout.
“I do also think there is something to voter fatigue and we’ve already had a lot of elections this year,” Hanlon said, adding the Port St. Joe elections were recently competed.
The seat District 7 became vacant, necessitating a special election, after Halsey Beshears was tapped by Gov. Ron DeSantis to head the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Early voting will continue through Saturday.
Thursday and Friday voting hours are 7:30 a.m. ET (6:30 a.m. CT) until 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. CT).
On Saturday, voting will take place 8 a.m. ET (7 a.m. CT) until 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. CT).
Early voting and Election Day voting Tuesday will be held at the county’s two “super centers,” the Supervisor of Elections Office at 401 Long Ave. in Port St. Joe and the Wewahitchka Public Library at 314 2nd Street.
Voters may vote at either center.
Tuesday, Election Day hours at will be 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET (6 a.m. until 6 p.m. CT).