Updated: March 2, 2021
Polls have closed in most of Florida’s 67 counties and initial results have started coming in.
In Florida, most polling stations close at 7 p.m. and results from early voting is often known at 7.15 p.m. while the rest is often made public at 7.30 p.m.
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Anyone in line by 7 p.m. is allowed to vote and results won’t be declared at that polling unit until the last person had voted.
Turnout appeared to be huge today with long lines in many counties, especially in Miami-Dade and Democrats who spoke to TODAY NEWS AFRICA expected the huge turnout to favor them.
In the past, Senatorial elections in Florida were the most watched. But this year, all eyes are on the governorship election where Democratic candidate, 39-year old Andrew Gillum, is going ahead to head against Republican Ron DeSantis.
Many are watching to see what would happen in some of Florida’s most populous counties; Miami-Dade with 2.7 residents and 1.4 million registered voters, Broward with a population of 1.9 million, Palm Beach and Hillsborough counties with populations of 1.4 million people each as well as Orange and Pinellas counties with respective populations of 1.3 million and 970 thousand respectively. Duval county also has a population of over 900 thousand people.
Before the actual vote began today, Gillum was leading DeSantis by 7 points, according to the Quinnipiac survey released on Monday, but a Florida university don told journalists also on Monday morning that the 3.5 million registered independent voters were likely determine who wins tonight.
The Quinnipiac survey said 50 percent of likely voters favor Gillum while 43 percent of likely voters support DeSantis, a former Congressman whose comment not to “monkey this up” against Gillum, a black candidate, was widely condemned and seen as racist.
On October 23, the Quinnipiac survey of the Florida governor’s race saw Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, leading by 6 points. The latest poll has widened his lead by 1 percent.
But Dr Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University who addressed foreign journalists near Miami Beach on Monday morning said she sees a closer race.
With 4.6 million registered Republicans, 4.9 million registered Democrats both energized, Dr. DePalo said Tuesday’s result may come down to what the 3.5 million independent voters decide to do and how many young voters turn out to vote.
Dr. DePalo said the Florida governorship election and other races may end up being a referendum on President Donald Trump who considers Florida as his second home, a state where he usually spends time at Mar-a-Lago, a resort and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach.
According to Dr. DePalo, there are about 54.1 percent of white voters in Florida, 25 percent of Hispanics and 16.9 percent of blacks, but many white voters support Gillum, especially because of issues such as healthcare, gun control and Trump.
When polls close at 7pm in most counties in Florida on Tuesday, she would be watching closely to see what independents and young voters had decided to do. But already, she explained that early voting has been huge, although only about 7 percent of young voters have so far voted.
She said between half and two-thirds of registered voters have already voted in Florida, which is already far ahead of previous midterm elections.
Republicans were slightly ahead over Democrats in terms of early voting, but the last Sunday before elections in Florida often sees a huge African American turnout after church services. She did not have the latest statistics.
She said because Democrats and Republicans kept energizing their base, turnout on Tuesday will be key to the final results in Florida, a state called “the microcosm of the nation” or the largest swing state in the United States, which is representative of the the national mood.