Palm Beach County municipal election was successful despite low turnout, officials say

Number of eligible voters dropped by 6%, according to supervisor of elections
Posted at 9:49 PM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 23:25:27-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — It was a smooth election overall Tuesday in Palm Beach County, yet voter turnout was low, according to Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link.

Seventeen out of 39 Palm Beach County's municipalities participated in the election, with voters in most municipalities asked to elect municipal leaders to serve on council or commission seats.

The exceptions were Boca Raton and Tequesta, where ballot questions were asked.

According to the supervisor of elections office, 12.38% of the county's more than 193,000 eligible voters cast a ballot this election cycle.

In comparison, during the municipal election in the spring of 2022, 18.8% of voters cast a ballot by mail or in person.

"It's a little lower than what we had previously," Sartory Link said. "Vote by mail is a little lower than it has been in the past."

Palm Beach County Supervisor Elections Wendy Sartory Link speaks about voter turnout on March 14, 2023.
Palm Beach County Supervisor Elections Wendy Sartory Link speaks about voter turnout on March 14, 2023.

Sartory Link said the lower mail-in ballot turnout may be contributing to the overall lower numbers, and there's a reason for it.

Previously, Florida voters could choose to automatically receive a mail-in ballot for every election for up to four years, yet Sartory Link said new legislation recently passed canceled nearly all of the standing requests on file at the end of 2022.

"So, if you wanted to vote by mail, you had to, for the first time in many years, do a new request, and a lot of people aren't quite used to that," Sartory Link said.

Still, despite the lower voter turnout, Sartory Link said she's thankful there were no hiccups, and that the process was smooth and safe.

"I was worried about some of the cities where I had heard some really contentious races, but when I was out today, everyone was behaving well," Sartory Link said. "The candidates, the representatives of the candidates, were good-natured. I saw no issues."

Voters who get a message saying the signature on their ballot wasn't accepted — either because they forgot to sign it or it didn't match — have until 5 p.m. Thursday to return a cured affidavit with their required identification.

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