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Palm Beach County special elections bring low voter turnout

Special congressional, state House primary elections attract small fraction of voters
Posted at 6:45 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 19:13:55-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A special election was held Tuesday in portions of Palm Beach County for a congressional and state race, but voter turnout remained low.

With less than an hour before the polls closed, only 11.65% of eligible Palm Beach County voters had participated.

Democratic nominee Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Republican nominee Jason Mariner were vying for the vacant seat in Florida's 20th Congressional District. The seat has been open since April, when U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., died of pancreatic cancer.

Meanwhile, former Riviera Beach police Chief Clarence Williams and Jervonte Edmonds, executive director of the nonprofit Suits for Seniors, were facing off in a special Democratic primary election in the Florida House.

It is the seat formerly occupied by Omari Hardy, who resigned in a failed bid to pursue Hastings' seat in Congress.

The Democrat who wins will face Republican nominee Guarina Torres in March.

Because Florida is a closed-primary state, only Democrats living in the district were able to vote.

Palm Springs resident Julia Stephenson found out there was no election where she lives when she showed up to vote at the Palm Beach County library on Summit Boulevard.

"I'm confused," she said.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link admitted the odd-shaped districts could make it confusing for some voters.

"Some places, it's very confusing for voters, maybe," she said, noting how Florida House District 88 stretches from Riviera Beach to Delray Beach and the 20th Congressional District extends west all the way to Belle Glade.