By DOTTY NIST
Walton County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Bobby Beasley was featured speaker at the Jan. 16 Walton Republican Women Federated (WRWF) general membership meeting. His topic was the 2018 elections, along with trends in voter registration and voting.
The meeting was held at Cantina Laredo in Grand Boulevard.
Ryan Messer, systems coordinator for the SOE Office, was present to assist with Beasley’s presentation.
Beasley said there were 2,767 new voters in Walton County for the election, with registration leaning more to Republicans both in Walton County and in all the counties in Florida.
He called the turnout for the 2018 General Election in Walton County “pretty high,” at 60.84 percent, slightly lower than the 62.65 percent statewide turnout.
Beasley was of the opinion that Bay County had done a “super job” with the election shortly after being ravaged by Hurricane Michael. Turnout in Bay County was 52.87 percent.
In Walton County, 55.5 percent of voters cast their ballot before election day, Beasley reported.
Five recounts were conducted in connection with the election, three by machine and two by hand, he noted. Statewide, there was a difference of just 10,033 votes in the U.S. Senate race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson, amounting to a 0.12 percent difference, he noted.
Beasley explained that recounts were conducted with representatives of the two major parties participating.
He spoke about undervotes in the U.S. Senate race, with an undervote meaning a voter not marking a choice for one of the races. He credited design of the ballot in Broward county for a higher incidence of undervotes for the latter race, since candidates were listed under directions on the ballot where voters tended to miss those listings. The ballot design had been contrary to Federal Election Code recommendations in that regard, Beasley explained.
In the governor’s race, the difference statewide was 32,463 votes statewide between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum, a 0.4 percent difference, he noted.
“This is the most women we’ve ever had in Congress,” Beasley told the club members, who applauded. He said women now represent one in four of those in Congress.
While at approximately 50,000 active voters, Walton County may have comparatively few voters, the county does make a difference, Beasley commented. He pointed out that Scott had won by 10,033 votes statewide and had won Walton County by 15,291 votes. “Pull out Walton County and we’d still have Nelson as senator,” Beasley remarked.
He discussed Amendment 4, which is to allow approximately 1.4 million ex-felons who have completed all terms of their sentences (excluding those convicted of murder and sex crimes) to register to bypass the clemency board and register to vote. The amendment is in effect as of Jan. 8, but Beasley said SOEs are awaiting legislative guidance on some vague terms of the amendment.
On issue, he explained, may be that some may still owe fines or may not have met other requirements. He said that six former felons had come to his office to register—and that their sworn statements that they had met all the terms of their sentences had been accepted. It is the responsibility of the former felons to ensure that they have met those terms, Beasley commented.
Discussing no party affiliation (NPA) votes, he pointed out that these voters amount to 27 percent in Florida, as compared with 37 percent Democratic voters and 35 percent Republican voters. “Whoever wins the NPAs usually wins the state of Florida,” Beasley said.
In Walton County 60.3 percent of active voters are registered as Republicans, followed by 19.6 percent NPAs, 19.2 percent Democrats, and 0.9 percent other parties, he revealed.
There has been growth in all 21 Walton County voter precincts over the past six years with the exception of the Valley View precinct, which lost voters by 1.2 percent, Beasley reported.
Looking forward, Beasley spoke of upcoming elections, including the April 9, 2019 DeFuniak Springs City Election, the March 17, 2020 Presidential Preference Primary Election, the Aug. 25, 2020 Primary/Paxton City Election and the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election. The exact date is still to be determined for the May 2019 School Board County Referendum.
Beasley encouraged attendees to sign up for his office’s newsletter and to follow his office on social media.
Members were encouraged to attend the club’s February general membership meeting, which is to feature Republican State Committeeman Tim Norris as speaker. He is to provide a state level update.
Information on Walton Republican Women Federated is available by contacting Lisa Johnson, club president, at firstname.lastname@example.org.