Orange Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles warned poll workers today (March 20) to expect a lot of confused voters when the City of Orlando elections are held April 3.
“It is going to be ugly out there,” Cowles told workers gathered at the elections office for a training session. “This is the City of Orlando election and with it comes a lot of craziness.”
This is the first election since the districts were reapportioned and some voters may not realize they have been moved into another district. The city also drew new precinct boundaries which, Cowles said, will further confuse voters.
“Voters are creatures of habit they will drive to where they voted on January 31 or in 2010 and find the place empty,” he said.
Cowles said many people mistakenly think they live in the city and turn up at the polls expecting to cast a ballot.
“To complicate things the U.S. Postal Services gives a lot of you Orlando mailing addresses even though you don’t live in the city.” In addition, he said, there are enclaves in the middle of the city that are still in the county because the land has never been annexed.
Some people don’t know the difference between the city and county mayor, he said, while others think that because they are served by Orlando Utilities they must live in the city and therefore be able to vote.
Led by Adopt-a-Precinct chair Laurie Wack, the LWVOC will be staffing Precinct 3301 in Baldwin Park on election day. The popularity of the program was evident when Cowles asked us how many were part of Aopt-a-Precinct. Most of the trainees raised their hands. The supervisor noted that half of Orlando’s 27 precincts would be staffed by AAP volunteers.
Sample ballots will be mailed to all voters on Thursday along with maps with blue ink marking the new boundaries. But Cowles predicted that many voters wouldn’t bother to study the information and would just head to the place where they had always voted.
More than 9,000 absentee ballots have been sent out and Cowles reminded poll workers that voters must drop their completed ballots off at the Supervisor of Elections Office on Kaley Avenue.
Cowles said that because the races for mayor and city commission seats had been “very competitive” contests he expects a lot of candidate action around the polling places.
When the city of Winter Garden held elections last week, he said, there were "more signs for one candidate than the candidate received votes in the election."
By Ann Hellmuth