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Broward County's New Elections Supervisor Faces First Test With March 9 Election

A woman drops her ballot by mail at Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office in Lauderhill, Fla., on Oct. 5, 2020.
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A woman drops her ballot by mail at Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office in Lauderhill, Fla., on Oct. 5, 2020.

Coconut Creek is electing three city commissioners. Deerfield Beach District 3 needs a city commissioner. Hillsboro Beach is electing a town commissioner. Miramar is electing three city commissioners. Sea Ranch Lakes needs a village council member.

Joe Scott was elected to be the new Supervisor of Elections in Broward County in last November's general election. He beat out his Republican challenger by nearly 30 percentage points.

Now, Scott will run and oversee his first elections happening in the county; five municipalities are choosing new city commissioners and council members.

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Scott said more than 10,000 people have already voted by mail, out of 40,000 mail ballots sent out for these elections.

"We'll be expecting this to be a little bit of a higher turnout, local election than we've seen in the past, simply because so many vote-by-mail ballots went out," he said. "This might end up being a very unique election ... there's really a record number of people who ended up getting a vote by mail ballot this time."

People who requested a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2020 presidential election were automatically sent them this time. But that law could change if a bill (CS/SB 90) moving through the Florida Legislature gets passed. The bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Dennis Baxley, would make people have to request vote-by-mail ballots more frequently.

Scott said the Broward elections office is prepared to see in-person voter turnout Tuesday get as high as 20% in most voting locations. There will be 48 in total. And they will still have coronavirus safety precautions in place:

"All of our poll workers will be masked and we're asking anybody in the public to wear their masks as well," Scott said. "We're also taking additional steps to clean all the voting booths between every single person, which is basically adding another staff member to all of these locations whose job it is just to walk around and disinfect. We're also we have pens that people will be able to take with them that says 'I Voted' like we did back in November."

Other things Scott has carried over from last year's smooth successful election cycle — the staff former supervisor Peter Antonacci employed at the Broward elections office.

"I think that my predecessor did a great job of making some changes in terms of staffing here in the office. And he made the team a lot stronger than it was in 2018," Scott said. "I was lucky that I was able to fall in on that strong team. There's been no major changes needed at this point as far as staffing wise. It's more about sort of starting to get our hands around the different systems that are in place and starting to make some changes that will only make us more efficient and more accessible in the future. And a big thing for us is trying to come up with a new system that we can put in place to improve our transparency."

He has also changed the office's outreach strategy. The office started an Instagram account, @browardvotes.

"We're focusing a lot more on engaging with voters through social media, because that's really the avenue that's available to us right now," he said.

The account's very first post was about the March 9 local elections.

Here are the municipalities that will have elections on the March 9 ballot:

  • Coconut Creek is electing three city commissioners.
  • Deerfield Beach District 3 is electing a city commissioner.
  • Hillsboro Beach is electing a town commissioner.
  • Miramar is electing three city commissioners.
  • Sea Ranch Lakes is electing a village councilmember.

You can view the sample ballots, below: