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Officials Expect Smooth Florida Primary Despite Coronavirus Concerns

Mar 17, 2020

As Florida officials try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the state's voters will head to the polls and cast ballots today in the Democratic presidential primary.

Officials say all are expected to go smoothly despite concerns over the coronavirus.

State health officials have been working with local supervisors of elections to make sure polling locations are safe and clean, and some precincts at nursing homes and senior centers have been moved.

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For the most part, the Department of State Secretary Laurel Lee believes voters won’t notice a difference from any other presidential primary voting day.

“Floridians can safely and securely go to the polls to cast their ballots in Tuesday’s presidential preference primaries,” Lee said.

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Between vote-by-mail and early voting, more than 2 million votes have been cast in total and officials don’t expect long lines. The biggest change is for people who are self-isolating or quarantining due to coronavirus. But Lee explains there is an easy solution.

“If a voter has been ordered to self-isolate or is experiencing symptoms and has not yet voted they should not go to the polls and instead should designate someone to pick up their vote by mail ballot for them,” Lee said.

Although some municipalities have local contests, the main race is between the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination: former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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About 1.9 million of the state’s voters had voted by mail or at early voting centers as of Monday afternoon.

Stay with WUSF on-air for continuing coverage throughout the day.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. with Florida Matters, we'll talk with local analyst William March and WUSF political reporter Steve Newborn. You can share your thoughts with us ahead of the show at floridamatters@wusf.org.

The Florida Roundup will be taking your calls at 7 p.m. You can call in at 305-995-1800.  National Public Radio coverage of primaries in Ohio, Arizona and Illinois will finish the night starting at 8 p.m.

Information from WFSU reporter Blaise Gainey and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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