Several Republican politicians have spoken out about alleged voter suppression at select voting precincts in Alachua County during Tuesday’s primary election.
U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack posted an update to Facebook addressing Newberry area voters at 5:55 p.m. confirming a polling location at the Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center had run out of Republican ballots just hours before she won her race.
She called the Alachua Supervisor of Elections, who confirmed additional ballots were delivered, she said. She urged voters to return to the polls and “let your voice be heard.”
State Sen. Keith Perry, R-Ocala, released a statement after polls closed “regarding Alachua County Voter Suppression.” Multiple Alachua County precincts in both Newberry and High Springs went without Republican ballots for several hours, the statement read.
Republican voters at these precincts were made to wait, according to Perry’s statement, and eventually left without being able to vote because Republican ballots were unavailable. This put local races at stake, the statement read.
“It is unconscionable that elections officials have put the integrity of these races in jeopardy, forcing voters to make a choice between waiting to cast their ballots and getting home to their families,” Perry wrote in the statement.
Perry told The Alligator he first heard word about precincts’ shortage of Republican ballots around 5:30 p.m. but waited to release a statement until he was able to verify the validity of the accusations. He said he received calls of complaint from several precincts “west of Gainesville” — including in High Springs — but could not recall the precise locations.
As for whether this ballot situation had any impact on results of the Florida primary elections, Perry said it was too soon to say.
“Mistakes happen, and the thing that you can hope for and expect is that lesson’s learned and not repeated in the general election,” he said. “My guess is they won’t be.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Harding said the situation felt like a “direct target on Republican voters.”
A situation where people cannot vote is unacceptable, he said. Given the technology and time he said the Supervisor of Elections Office has to prepare for the election, no excuses should be accepted.
Harding encouraged any voter who was unable to vote or turned away from the precinct due to a lack of ballots to reach out to his or Perry’s office with their story.
“I hope this is a wake up call to all voters, regardless of their party, to really wake up and hold their elected leaders and Alachua County accountable,” he said.
Aaron Klein, spokesperson for the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, said there was a temporary shortage at select precincts, but he confirmed that election staff responded quickly to the issue and got ballots to the locations where they were needed.
He also denied allegations that any voter would have been refused the right to cast their ballot.
“We do not turn voters away from polling places,” Klein said. “We understand that there are some situations in which voters for whatever reason, will have to wait — whether it's a long line or a situation like this, but we don't turn voters away from the polling place.”
Klein was unable to tell The Alligator which precincts experienced a shortage and how many, but said he would provide updates in the coming days.
Veronica Nocera, Lucille Lannigan, Aurora Martínez, Lauren Brensel and Averi Kremposky contributed to this report.
Lucy is a senior journalism major and the metro editor for The Alligator. She has previously served as a news assistant and the East Gainesville reporter for the metro desk as well as the health and environment reporter on the university desk. When she’s not doing journalism you can find her painting or spending time outside.
Veronica Nocera is a third-year journalism major, history minor and The Avenue editor. She spent two semesters reporting arts and culture for The Alligator and also writes for Rowdy Magazine. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, journaling or taping random pictures to her wall. Also, she’ll probably be wearing yellow.
Averi Kremposky is a senior journalism major at the University of Florida. When she’s not covering music, art and culture beats for The Avenue, you can find her going to a concert, finishing another book in one sitting or submitting to the latest Taylor Swift album theory.
Lauren Brensel is a journalism sophomore and a metro reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she's found going on mental health walks, being silly with friends, hiding from the public and reminding those around her that they did this song on Glee.