Florida Republican primary turnout exceeds Democrats; Libertarians lag

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy won their respective Senate primaries on Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy won their respective Senate primaries on Tuesday.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Florida, but GOP turnout far exceeded Democratic participation in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primaries. Both major parties had robust turnout compared to Libertarians, who largely passed up the chance to cast ballots in the party’s first-ever statewide primary.

 

More than 1.4 million Republicans — about 32 percent of Florida’s 4.4 million registered GOP voters — cast ballots in the primary that Sen. Marco Rubio easily won with 72 percent over homebuilder Carlos Beruff.

 

Historic Invictus-Stanton Libertarian Senate primary was skipped by 84 percent of Florida Libertarians.
Historic Invictus-Stanton Libertarian Senate primary was skipped by 84 percent of Florida Libertarians.

More than 1.1 million Democrats — about 24 percent of the 4.7 million registered Democratic voters statewide — participated in the Democratic primary won by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, over Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and attorney Pam Keith.

 

Florida’s first-ever statewide Libertarian primary failed to excite limited-government advocates. Of the 25,030 Floridians registered with the Libertarian Party, only 4,005 weighed in — 16 percent — for the race in which Paul Stanton body-slammed Augustus Invictus.

 

Overall statewide turnout, which includes no-party voters, was 23.9 percent.

Patrick Murphy appears with wounded soldier’s father to blast Marco Rubio

Tim Riney of Safety Harbor appears with Rep. Patrick Murphy in West Palm Beach.
Tim Riney of Safety Harbor appears with Rep. Patrick Murphy in West Palm Beach.

UPDATED with response from Rubio’s Senate office

 

WEST PALM BEACH — Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, began his first full day as Florida’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate by appearing with the father of a wounded soldier who said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio‘s Senate office didn’t help him after his son was paralyzed in a training accident.

 

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s office didn’t help either, Tim Riney of Safety Harbor said at a news conference this morning.

 

But Riney said he’s angry at Rubio because Rubio recently began airing a TV ad touting his help for veterans.

 

Rubio’s Senate office this afternoon said it responded within two business days to Riney’s request and pursued the matter for six months — with Rubio himself sending a handwritten note to the younger Riney — until the father “indicated that no further action was needed from our office at the time.”

 

Timothy Riney Jr., now 26, is paralyzed from the chest down after a February 2015 accident that killed one other soldier in Colorado. Riney’s father said his family immediately encountered problems dealing with the Army and later with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The elder Riney said he reached out to Rubio’s office for assistance.

 

Riney said Rubio’s office took four or five months to respond with what he called a “form letter” that was unhelpful. Rubio’s office said it began working on the case on March 2, 2015 — two days after the younger Riney signed a consent form authorizing the Senate office to work on his behalf.

 

At the news conference with Murphy, a reporter asked if Riney had contacted Nelson’s office as well.

 

“I made an initial contact with Sen. Nelson but have not heard from them at all,” Riney replied. “I did not follow it up like I did with Sen. Rubio. I made two or three different calls and emails to Sen. Rubio before I finally got somebody.”

 

Asked why he pursued the matter with Rubio’s office and not Nelson’s, Riney said: “Because I knew he was going to run for president and I thought it would be more of a help to us.”

 

Rubio launched his presidential bid in April 2015 and scrubbed it in March after losing to Donald Trump in Florida’s primary.

 

Riney said after the news conference that he had also contacted Rep. David Jolly, R-St. Petersburg, and Jolly “was a tremendous help to us. But we needed more help.”

 

Murphy used Riney’s appearance to accuse Rubio of being focused on his political ambitions instead of his job.

 

“Marco Rubio could have been there for the Rineys. He could have put a family from Florida first. He could have made a difference. But he had other priorities,” Murphy said. “While Tim Riney was working hard to care for his son, Marco Rubio was working hard to get elected to the White House.”

 

 

 

 

After a no-debate primary, Rubio now wants to square-off with Murphy six times

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

After a primary marked by no debates among either the Democratic or Republican field, GOP U.S. Senate nominee Marco Rubio challenged Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy to take the debate stage six times between now and November.

So far, an Oct. 26 contest, sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association, is the only one planned.

“Despite our differences, I hope we can both agree that voters deserve to know where we stand on the important issues of our time,” Rubio said in a day-after primary letter to Murphy.

With Rubio the apparent front-runner in the race, clamoring for more debates is a departure from the usual campaign playbook. But after having been tested many times in presidential debates earlier this year, Rubio looks eager to engage his rival.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

Murphy accepted the challenge Wednesday — with a twist. He gigged Rubio for being unwilling to commit to serving out a full six-year term, if re-elected in November.

“I’m excited to debate Marco Rubio,” Murphy said. “His ‘challenge’ today is nothing more than a desperate attempt to try and change the campaign narrative from the fact that he abandoned Florida. I have a counter challenge: Senator Rubio, commit to serving a six-year term.”

 

Self-funding pays for Perkins ($3.7 mil) but not Slosberg ($1.9 mil), Freeman ($1.6 mil)

In congressional District 18, Democrat Randy Perkins spent $3.7 million of his own money and won his primary but Republican self-financers Mark Freeman ($1.6 million) and Carl Domino ($528,898) lost.
In congressional District 18, Democrat Randy Perkins spent $3.7 million of his own money and won his primary but Republican self-financers Mark Freeman ($1.6 million) and Carl Domino ($528,898) lost.

Businessman Randy Perkins pumped $3.7 million of his own money into his bid for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 congressional seat and won Tuesday’s Democratic primary. But some of Palm Beach County’s other big self-financers fell flat.

 

• In the six-candidate Republican primary for the same congressional seat, physician Mark Freeman put in $1.6 million of his own money and finished a distant third while investor Carl Domino tapped his personal accounts for $528,898 and came in fourth. Domino spent $1.2 million of his own money on a losing 2014 race for the same seat.

 

State Rep. Irv Slosberg
State Rep. Irv Slosberg

• State Rep. Irving Slosberg lost a Democratic state Senate primary to Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, after putting nearly $1.9 million of his own money into the race.

 

Ten years ago, Slosberg spent $2.8 million of his own money (that’s more than $3.3 million in today’s dollars) on a losing Senate primary.

 

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

• Trial lawyer Michael Steinger spent $665,000 of his own money on a Democratic state Senate campaign but lost a Tuesday primary to state Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach.

 

• While Irv Slosberg suffered a costly defeat, his daughter Emily Slosberg won a Democratic primary for her father’s House seat after putting $188,000 of her own money into the race. She faces only a write-in opponent in November.

 

• Democrat David Silvers spent $130,000 of his own money to win a primary in mid-county state House District 87. Silvers faces only a write-in opponent in November.

Rubio, Murphy headed toward November contest for U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was declared winner of the Republican primary by the Associated Press shortly after polls closed Tuesday across Florida.

Rubio had more than 70 percent of the early vote and mail-in ballots, putting him far ahead of Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff in second place, followed by two other longshot contenders.

Rubio, who dropped out of the Republican presidential field after badly losing the Florida primary in March to eventual nominee Donald Trump, was wooed into running by GOP Senate leaders who fear losing their majority in November.

On the Democratic side, party leaders were calling U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter the winner of the party’s primary to challenge Rubio in November. Murphy held a commanding lead over four other Democrats, with his closest rival U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando.

Murphy, a political centrist, had been tapped by party insiders as Democrats’ best hope to capture the Florida Senate seat – well before Rubio’s decision to re-boot his campaign. Millions of dollars is expected to be poured into the state by both sides over the next two months in a contest seen as key to controlling the Senate.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

In primary season, Gwen Graham stumping the state — and looking ahead to ’18?

Two generations of Grahams at this summer's Democratic National Convention
Two generations of Grahams at this summer’s Democratic National Convention

With primary day capturing much of the state’s political focus Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham appears already looking ahead to the Florida governor’s race two years from now.

Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat who chose not to seek re-election in her redrawn congressional district, spent the day on the algae-plagued St. Lucie River. She was joined by her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, along with area activists and scientists for a water-testing work day.

Graham last month asked Gov. Rick Scott to call a special session of the Legislature to tackle the algae bloom. He didn’t.

Graham plans to cross the state Wednesday for an appearance with state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, and take part in a campaign phone bank. Murphy wasn’t challenged for the Democratic nomination in her district, but faces Republican Amber Mariano in the November election.

Graham plans to spend primary night at U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s expected victory party  in Palm Beach Gardens. She also joined the Democratic U.S. Senate contender earlier Tuesday in Miami Gardens.

On Thursday, she’s set to be in Tampa and Gainesville, for appearances with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Rod Smith, the former Democratic state senator making a comeback bid this fall.

Voting running smoothly at Florida polling places — although mosquitoes a factor in Miami Beach

So far, so good at Florida's polling places
So far, so good at Florida’s polling places

Voting is off to a brisk start across Florida on primary day, with the 1.7 million ballots already cast through mail-in and early voting topping the levels of 2012 and 2014 elections, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Tuesday.

In a conference call with reporters, Detzner said that no significant problems were being reported by the state’s 67 elections supervisors. Perhaps the most notable situation came in Miami Beach, where a polling place at the city’s botanical garden had to be moved a block away to City Hall, because mosquito-spraying was underway linked to the state’s outbreak of Zika virus.

While 1.2 million mail-in ballots combined with 538,000 early voters to put Florida’s primary returns ahead of the past two election cycles at this time, Detzner said he wasn’t predicting any kind of record turnout. The percent of voters casting ballots in the late-summer primary has ranged between 18 percent and 22 percent over the past decade, records show.

“It’s too premature for us to conclude any final turnout numbers,” he said.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. in both the state’s eastern and central time zones and remain open until 7 p.m. Results will start being reported by the state’s Division of Elections after polls close at 7 p.m. CDT — an hour later than when polls shut in the east.

The state has a voter assistance hotline at 866-308-6739.

Update: Results from Tuesday’s elections in Palm Beach County

 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Update, 12:13 a.m.: For the latest results click here. Check back with Post on Politics for updates on runoffs.

Update, 11:05 p.m.: Here is a list of races that appear headed to a runoff on Nov. 8:

  • For School Board District 1, Tom Sutterfield will face Barbara McQuinn.
  • For 15th Judicial Circuit Group 4, Gregory Tendrich will face Luis Delgado.
  • For County Court Group 11, Gregg Lerman will face Dana Santino.
  • For Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District Seat 1, Craig Ehrnst will face Dennis Frisch.
  • For Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District Seat 3, Erin Wright will face Earl Starkoff.
  • For Indian Trail Improvement District Seat 2, Gary Dunkley will face Gary Bernal or Steve Roberts.
  • For Indian Trail Improvement District Seat 4, Betty Argue will face Michelle Damone.

Update, 10:38 p.m.: Voters in two Palm Beach County Commission races appeared Tuesday to be ousting incumbent Priscilla Taylor and voting in state legislator Dave Kerner.

Late Tuesday, attorney and former state representative Mack Bernard had a slim edge in the District 7 race over Taylor and two other opponents: Haverhill council member and retired paralegal and insurance adjuster Lawrence Gordon and former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Robbie Littles.

Read more here.

Former Democratic state Rep. Mack Bernard
Bernard

 

Rep. Dave Kerner
Kerner

Update, 10:26 p.m.: Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Dina Keever and County Court Judge Marni Bryson were swept back into office on Tuesday while voters put an African-American on the county bench for the first time in more than two decades and set the stage for a run-off in two other judicial races.

With nearly all of the precincts reporting, it appeared Boca Raton securities lawyer Gregory Tendrich and West Palm Beach defense attorney Luis Delgado were headed for a runoff in November to decide who will replace retiring Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin.

Likewise, in a county court race, it appeared longtime West Palm Beach defense attorney Gregg Lerman will be facing off in November against guardianship attorney Dana Santino to succeed County Court Judge Laura Johnson, who was elected to the circuit bench without opposition.

Civil litigator Bradley Harper appeared headed for victory in the other county court race, boasting a narrow margin over Assistant State Attorney Esther “Ettie” Feistmann to replace retired County Court Judge Barry Cohen.

Read more here.

Update, 10:13 p.m.: Political novice Emily Slosberg appears on her way to succeeding her father representing House District 91, as she holds a narrow lead Tuesday over Kelly Skidmore, who served four years in the House.

Slosberg, a Boca Raton attorney, is the daughter of state Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, who currently holds the seat.

Slosberg will face write-in opponents in the Nov. 8 general election for the south Palm Beach County seat.

emily slosberg
Slosberg

Update, 10:11 p.m.: David Silvers who appeared to have won the Democratic primary for State House District 87.

Silvers, president of a Boca Raton book development and licensing business, faced Darren Ayoub, an environmental attorney, and Virginia Savietto, a marketing manager and county public affairs official.

The seat was held by Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth, who ran for a Palm Beach County Commission seat.

david silvers
Silvers

Update, 10:09 p.m.: Former Wellington Councilman Matt Willhite is closer to a breakthrough in state politics following a Democratic primary victory over Royal Palm Beach resident Tinu Peña for House District 86.

In the Nov. 8 general election, Willhite, who left the Wellington Council because of term limits after eight years, will face Republican Stuart Mears, looking to turn the district red.

Read more here.

Willhite
Willhite

Update, 10:08 p.m.:  Political newcomer Laurel Bennett nears her first seat in elected office after an apparent primary victory over Stuart Mears in his second unsuccessful bid for the seat.

Bennett, the chief operating officer of a medical records company in Royal Palm Beach, lost a race for mayor of Royal Palm Beach in 2012. Mears unsuccessfully attempted to unseat Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, who currently holds the District 86 seat, in 2014.

Bennett will face Matt Willhite, a former Wellington councilman, in the Nov. 8 election for House District 86.

Read more here

Bennett
Bennett

Update, 10:06 p.m.: Wellington resident Rick Roth, a third-generation farmer of vegetables and sugar cane in Belle Glade, appeared well ahead of the son of a former state representative, in Tuesday’s Republican primary for State House District 85. Roth emphasized small-business experience and a pro-business, anti-fee philosophy.

Andrew Watt, son of former state Rep. Jim Watt and until recently an aide to Rep. Pat Rooney Jr., campaigned on his relationships with business and community leaders.

But it was Roth who came out ahead of the Republican-leaning district, which runs from North Palm Beach and Juno Beach west to The Acreage and Jupiter Farms. He will face Democrat Robert Simeone on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Read more here.

Republican Rick Roth, switching from congressional to state House race.
Rick Roth

Update, 9:55 p.m.: A field of six was narrowed to two in the race to represent the county’s northernmost residents on the Palm Beach County School Board. Barbara McQuinn and Tom Sutterfield rose to the top of the heap after polls closed on Tuesday’s primary and will face each other in the November election.

The two are vying to fill the only vacant seat on the board, created when Mike Murgio resigned in April. Murgio exited the District 1 seat a day after federal authorities indicted him on charges of bribery and illegal money transfers in connection with his son’s business.

Read more here.

Update, 9:42 p.m.: Dorothy Jacks appeared to be on her way to a resounding victory over Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana Tuesday night in the surprisingly testy race for property appraiser.

The victory moves Jacks from chief deputy property appraiser into the top job, which has been held by Gary Nikolits for 23 years. Nikolits announced last year that he would not seek re-election. He endorsed Jacks, who touted her experience in the office as the No. 1 reason voters should support her candidacy.

Jacks will face write-in candidate Charles H. Stahman in November. Stahman’s name will not be on the ballot.

A Jacks win also means a return to private employment for Vana, who has served two terms as a county commissioner and could not run for re-election to that seat. Vana had previously served in the state House before winning a seat on the county commission.

Read more here.

Property Appraiser candidate Dorothy Jacks
Property Appraiser candidate Dorothy Jacks

Update, 9:38 p.m.: The Associated Press says U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has won her Florida Democratic primary.

Update, 9:36 p.m.: Jeff Clemens, who leads Irv Slosberg in state Senate 31 Democratic primary, says: “My people ran a pitch-perfect campaign. I’m really proud of them.”

Slosberg congratulates Clemens, and then says: “Let’s move on to beat Donald Trump.”

— Alex Seltzer, Staff writer

Update, 9:30 p.m.: Bobby Powell, who leads Michael Steinger in the state Senate 30 Dem. primary, says:“Tonight we have shown that a life of service is truly a life that counts.”

Update, 9:27 p.m.: Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, elected in 2008 and again in 2012, easily defeated Christine Spain, a Boca Raton-based business law attorney and former Broward County Republican chairwoman.

Meanwhile, Public Defender Carey Haughwout soundly defeated William “Bill” Abramson, her first election opponent in 15 years on the job.

Read more here.

Update, 9:19 p.m.: The Associated Press has declared State Rep. Kevin Rader the winner of the state Senate District 29 race. Radar faced school teacher and political newcomer Mindy Koch.

Update, 9:05 p.m.: Decorated war veteran Brian Mast won a crowded Republican primary Tuesday while millionaire businessman Randy Perkins captured the Democratic nomination in nationally watched Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18.

Mast and Perkins are both first-time candidates who only recently established residences in the district and who emphasized their compelling biographies during their primaries. Their general election is expected to be one of the most costly and competitive House races in the nation this fall.

Read more here.

Update, 8:58 p.m.: The Associated Press has declared Jeff Clemens the winner of the Democratic primary for the District 31 state senate seat.

Update, 8:55 p.m.: With 90 percent of the votes tallied,  Barbara McQuinn and Tom Sutterfield appeared headed for a runoff in the race for the District 1 School Board seat.

Update, 8:53 p.m.: A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would expand tax exemptions for solar, wind and other renewable energy devices, appears to have been approved by state voters.

Amendment 4 would extend property tax breaks that took effect for residential properties in 2014 to commercial and industrial facilities. The residential measure, which voters approved in 2008, exempts solar and wind energy devices from being added to a property’s assessed value for property tax purposes.

Update, 8:51 p.m.: Dina Keever held a commanding lead over Robert ”Rob” Ostrov in the Circuit Judge, 15th Circuit, Group 1 race.

Update, 8:50 p.m.: Dorothy Jacks appeared headed to victory in the non partisan race for Palm Beach County Property Appraiser. Jacks, who currently serves as deputy to outgoing Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits, held a commanding lead over Shelley Vana, a county commissioner and former state House member.

Update, 8:40 p.m.: The Associated Press declares Brian Mast the winner over Rebecca Negron in the District 18 GOP primary.

On the Democratic side, The AP has called the race for Randy Perkins.

Update, 8:33 p.m.: Six candidates vying for the District 1 School Board seat are locked in a tight battle, and the race appears headed for a run off.

Update, 8:32 p.m.: While Irving ”Irv” Slosberg was trailing in the Democratic primary for the District 31 State Senate seat, his daughter, Emily Slosberg, held a slight lead in the Democratic primary for the District 91 State House seat.

Update, 8:30 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was declared winner of the Republican primary by the Associated Press shortly after polls closed Tuesday across Florida.

Rubio had more than 70 percent of the early vote and mail-in ballots, putting him far ahead of Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff in second place, followed by two other longshot contenders.

On the Democratic side, party leaders were calling U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter the winner of the party’s primary to challenge Rubio in November. Murphy held a commanding lead over four other Democrats, with his closest rival U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando.

Read more here.

Update, 8:25 p.m.: With half of Palm Beach County precincts reporting, Brian Mast is up over Rebecca Negron in the District 18 GOP primary. Palm Beach is 39 percent of the district’s Republicans.

Update, 8:13 p.m.: The Associated Press calls U.S. Senate primary for Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Update, 8:07 p.m.: Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is cruising to a fourth term, with early returns showing him with a dominant lead.

Bradshaw grabbed two-thirds of the early and absentee votes posted by the elections supervisor at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Former Riviera Beach police Maj. Alex Freeman was second, former Riviera Beach police Lt. Rick “Rosco” Sessa third and former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office corrections officer Samuel L. Thompson last.

Update, 8:05 p.m.: BREAKING:  Associated Press says Marco Rubio Florida wins GOP nomination to seek second Senate term.

Update, 8 p.m.: First precinct results now being reported in Palm Beach County.

Update, 7:37 p.m.: In the county commission races, Dave Kerner and Mack Bernard have taken the early lead.

Update, 7:28 p.m.: Carl J. Domino holds an early lead in the Republican primary for the District 18 Congressional seat. On the Democratic side, Randy Perkins is leading.

Update, 7:26 p.m.: In the Democratic primary for the State Senate District 31 seat,  Jeff Clemens took the early lead over Emmanuel G Morel and Irv Slosberg.

Update, 7:25 p.m.: In the Democratic primary for the State Senate District 30 seat, Bobby Powell leads Michael Steinger.

Update, 7:20 p.m:  The following incumbents have taken an early lead in countywide races: Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher and Public Defender Carey Haughwout.

In the Property Appraiser’s race Dorothy Jacks leads Shelley Vana.

Update, 7:15 p.m.: In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy have taken the early lead in Palm Beach County.

Update: 7:12 p.m.: The first round of election results are in. The tallies include early and absentee ballots.

Update, 7:10 p.m.: Early voting nearly doubled from the 2012 primary, with about 29,000 voters going to the polls before election day, according to Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

In 2012, 15,000 voters went to the polls before election day.

Similar gains were seem for absentee ballots, Bucher said. In 2012, 29,500 absentee ballots were cast. For today’s primary, 50,000 voters voted absentee, Bucher said.

Bucher expects to have absentee results by 7:30 p.m. followed by early vote totals.

Update, 7 p.m.: Polls in Palm Beach County are now closed.

Check back for updates on all of the state and local races.

Update, 6:30 p.m.: Rain continues to fall over parts of Palm Beach County, threatening to dampened voter turnout in the final half-hour of voting.

Polls are set to close at 7 p.m.

As of 6:20 p.m., more than two inches of rain had falling in many places of the county, according to data from the South Florida Water Management District. One spot in central Palm Beach County reported 3.93 inches of rain, the data showed.

Update, 6:00 p.m.:  The Palm Beach Gardens Moose Lodge is busier this evening than it was at lunchtime. That means a somewhat steady trickle, but there’s still no rush, Sarah Peters reports.

Voters from seven precincts are casting ballots today at the lodge.

Update, 4:50 p.m.: A Riviera Beach man said he was allowed to vote Tuesday morning without being asked for photo identification, but the precinct captain denies the incident.

Photo identification, such as a driver license, is a requirement to vote.

Drew Lofton, a retired firefighter from Maryland, told The Palm Beach Post he was given a ballot after presenting only his voter registration card at the voting precinct at Hurst Chapel on Silver Beach Road, west of Dixie Highway.

But Marie Foster, the precinct captain at Hurst Chapel, denied Lofton received a ballot.

“The only way a person is allowed to vote if they have a photo identification. That is the only way they get a ballot,” Foster said.

Read more here.

Update, 2:20 p.m.: A poll worker said voting has been steady at the Lake Worth Scottish Rite Masonic Center with no issues, Kevin D. Thompson reports.

“Thank God,” the man said. “This is Florida, you know.”

(Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post)
(Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post)

Update, 2:10 p.m.: 

Update, 1:50 p.m.:  Voting has been steady at the Mirasol sales office, which is home to several precincts. There was a rush of working people in the morning and retirees throughout the day, Sarah Peters reports.

Thunderstorms are moving in to western Palm Beach Gardens, where the rain had been everything from a steady drizzle to a downpour.

One voter and his wife leaving the polling place under the cover of an umbrella said he makes it a point to vote in every election.

(Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)
(Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)

Update, 1:35 p.m.: Despite pelting rains, voters are still coming to Church in the Farms on Indiantown Road in Jupiter Farms. Vehicles are navigating through three inches of water in the parking lot, reports Bill DiPaolo.

(Bill DiPaolo/The Palm Beach Post)
(Bill DiPaolo/The Palm Beach Post)

Update, 1:05 p.m.: Rain is coming down just about everywhere in Palm Beach County except along the coast in West Palm Beach and inland Jupiter Farms.

The heaviest stuff in falling inland.

Update, 12:40 p.m.: Palm Beach Gardens is now being hit with a downpour.

But even before the rain, turnout appeared low at the Moose Lodge, despite the number of precincts.

School board candidate Toi Daniels is campaigning there and said her kids are at other voting locations.

“Nobody’s really busy at all,” she told Post reporter Sarah Peters.

Though someone suggested people took advantage of early voting, she said she didn’t find that to be very busy, either.

Update, 12:20 p.m.: A ballot scanner at the Westgate Community Center didn’t work this morning and was replaced, according to a poll worker.

“We plugged it in and it didn’t work,” said the worker, who declined to give her name to reporter Kevin D. Thompson. “They were certainly aware of the problem and they corrected it.”

The protocol in those situations is for the workers to continue to collect ballots and scan them in after the problem is fixed, Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said.

Update, 12:15: Here comes the rain.

Heavy rain is beginning to fall in the southern part of the county. Suburban Boynton Beach and Delray Beach are getting showers and there is a downpour throughout Boca Raton.

Showers and thunderstorms are still expected throughout the county this afternoon.

Update, noon: All reports have been calm throughout the morning.

If you’re going to vote on your lunch break, cheak out The Palm Beach Post’s Know Your Candidates guide and our endorsement guide.

Update, 11:30 a.m.: 

By Kevin D. Thompson

So far it’s been smooth sailing this morning at several polling locations in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach.

“People are coming in and out in, like, five minutes,” Melissa McGee, a polling supervisor, said outside Wellington Village Hall on Forest Hill Boulevard. “This is the fastest I’ve ever seen.”

While there were many campaign signs posted outside Wellington Village Hall, there weren’t any supporters camped outside.

McGee said the turnout should pick up later this afternoon after voters get off work.

Wellington Community High School also saw few voters.

It was the same at three Royal Palm Beach polling locations – Village Meeting Hall, Royal Palm Beach High School and H.L. Johnson Elementary.

Brittany Holland, 22, was outside Royal Palm Beach High School supporting Joseph Anderson for a seat on the Port of Palm Beach Commission.

Why him?

“I’m dating his son,” Holland said, giggling.

Inda Spencer, a polling worker outside the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center, said the slow pace will quicken later.

“People want change in Palm Beach County,” she said.

Kevin Elections 1

Update, 10:50 a.m.: Don’t be fooled if the Jupiter Community Center looks closed. It’s open for voting.

Update, 10:40 a.m.: In Palm Beach County, there haven’t been any major voting issues so far, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said.

Bucher has been out in the field, going to polling places this morning and will be canvassing in the afternoon. She happy that the rain has mostly held off so far.

“Everything looks OK,” she said. “Things are pretty smooth.”

Update, 10:30 a.m.: The 1.7 million mail-in and early ballots cast throughout Florida eclipsed the numbers of 2012 and 2014, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Tuesday.

He reports voting this morning is off to a smooth start other than a polling place in Miami Beach that had to be moved for mosquito spraying.

Read reporter John Kennedy’s full blog post here.

Update, 10:15 a.m.: Palm Beach Post reporter Kevin Thompson is making his way through the western communities this morning:

Update, 10 a.m.: The rain is staying mostly offshore for now, but don’t expect it to be that way all day.

The National Weather Service is still predicting heavy rain throughout the day. This morning there have only been scattered pockets of light rain.

If you’re voting later today, remember to pack an umbrella or rain coat.

For more weather information check out Post reporter Kim Miller’s weather blog.

Rain has stayed mostly offshore so far, but widespread showers are still expected today.
Rain has stayed mostly offshore so far, but widespread showers are still expected today.

Update, 9:30 a.m.: There has been a light turnout reported in polls from Lake Worth through the northern part of the county, but volunteers have been active.

Read more from reporter Bill DiPaolo here, and let us know what you’re seeing when you go out to vote.

Update, 9 a.m.: Voting appears to be going slowly this morning, which doesn’t come as a big surprise.

Palm Beach County was lagging behind the state in early voting and mail-in ballots as of Monday afternoon.

About 8.8 percent of registered voters in the county had voted by mid-day Monday, compared to about 13.7 percent statewide, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of numbers provided by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections and the Florida Division of Elections.

Read more about the early voting turnout here.

Campaign volunteers are greeting voters Tuesday morning at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens (Bill DiPaolo/The Palm Beach Post).
Campaign volunteers are greeting voters Tuesday morning at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens (Bill DiPaolo/The Palm Beach Post).

Update, 7 a.m.: The polls are now open and will be for the next 12 hours.

Original post: Get ready for a rainy Election Day.

The polls will be open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Palm Beach County, and the National Weather Service is predicting widespread showers and scattered thunderstorms throughout the day.

The ballots will include primaries for Congress, the state legislature, as well as, non-partisan county offices like Circuit Judge, Sheriff and property appraiser.

Looking for candidate and primary information? Check out The Palm Beach Post’s Know Your Candidates guide and our endorsement guide. You can also get all The Post’s Aug. 30 election coverage at myPalmBeachPost.com/2016primary/.

Stick with Post on Politics throughout the day for updates on weather, news from the polls and any problems that arise. If you have issues at the polls, please reach out to reporter Matt Morgan at mmorgan@pbpost.com

Florida Republicans get more conservative in Tallahassee this election year

Republicans in Florida Legislature rated more conservative this year.
Republicans in Florida Legislature rated more conservative this year.

For many in politically diverse Florida, this may not be good news: But Republicans in the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature got more conservative this election year.

The American Conservative Union’s ratings for Florida lawmakers found that Republicans in Tallahassee scored an average 85.5 out of 100 this year — compared with 70 in 2015.

The ACU rated lawmakers on 15 bills this year — covering such issues as fracking, guns, abortion, Planned Parenthood funding, school choice and tax cuts.

While Republicans were boosting their performance in the eyes of conservatives, House Democrats averaged a 20 percent rating; Senate Democrats a 33 percent mark. Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami Beach, who is leaving office, was the highest ranking legislative Democrat in the ACU’s view — gaining a 57 percent rating.

“The 2016 session of the Florida legislature continued to make strides in implementing conservative principles,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp.

But it wasn’t all perfect for conservatives.

Schlapp added, “Unfortunately, the Senate failed to take up House-passed bills to increase energy production and ease restrictions on the carrying of firearms.”

Floridians grade state’s fight against Zika virus as fair-to-poor

Gov. Scott's fight against Zika virus includes many round tables.
Gov. Scott’s fight against Zika virus includes many round tables.

With Gov. Rick Scott hosting another day of Zika virus round tables today, state officials are getting mostly fair to poor marks for how they’re handling the outbreak, a new poll shows.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research said Monday that 22 percent of Floridians say the state is doing a poor job in trying to control the spread of the virus, while another 37 percent rated the effort as fair. While 35 percent statewide called the state’s performance good or excellent, in South Florida that dips to 29 percent.

The state has reported 42 cases of non-travel related Zika virus — all but one coming in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Scott is hosting huddles with local business leaders and tourism officials today in Naples and Boca Raton.

Statewide, 48 percent of poll respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned about contracting the illness. Concern is greater among women than men about contracting the virus, which among pregnant women, can cause profound birth defects.

Older Floridians are the most concerned about the virus, along with residents of Southeast Florida, the survey showed. Mason-Dixon questioned 625 Floridians last week, and the poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.