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Live updates on Florida's 2022 general election

Published November 7, 2022 at 4:47 PM EST

Coverage of the Nov. 8 general election across the state and the greater Tampa Bay region.

Constitutional amendments are short of the 60% threshold needed to pass

Posted November 9, 2022 at 12:38 AM EST

Voters have apparently rejected three proposed constitutional amendments that would have provided property tax breaks and eliminated the state’s Constitution Revision Commission.

The proposals needed support from 60 percent of voters to pass. Late Tuesday with about 97 percent of the vote counted, all were below that threshold.

Amendment 1 sought to prevent properties’ assessed values from increasing because of improvements aimed at combating flooding. Amendment 2 sought to repeal the Constitution Revision Commission. Amendment 3 sought to expand the homestead property tax exemption for teachers, first responders and military members.

The Constitution Revision Commission repeal proposal had about 54 percent support. The tax proposals drew more support but did not appear likely to reach the 60 percent threshold.

Read more about the election results here.

2022 election: How Tampa Bay voted in key races that represent the area

Posted November 9, 2022 at 12:32 AM EST

On Tuesday night, Florida Republican candidates swept bids for the Florida Cabinet — and Republican candidates in congressional races largely followed suit.

Republican candidate Anna Paulina Luna defeated Democratic opponent Eric Lynn in Pinellas County's 13th congressional district to take the place of former U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who was unsuccessful in his race for governor on Tuesday. Another closely watched congressional race in the greater Tampa Bay region was Republican Laurel Lee's victory over Democrat Alan Cohn for Florida's newly drawn 15th congressional district.

Democratic incumbent Fentrice Driskell withstood a challenge to Florida House District 67, which encompasses northeastern Hillsborough County.

While Florida voters appeared to have rejected statewide constitutional amendments, several countywide referendums were passed by voters in the greater Tampa Bay region.

Read more election results here.

Bilirakis will return to Congressional seat, Penny for Pasco tax renewal passes

Posted November 9, 2022 at 12:31 AM EST

Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis — who represents Pasco and northern Pinellas counties — won his seat against Democrat Kimberly Walker, and Pasco County voters approved a countywide tax referendum.

Voters easily re-approved the Penny for Pasco referendum that has been in effect for 18 years and has generated $1 billion for county school improvements and government expenses such as sheriff's patrol cars and traffic improvements. The one percent sales tax will be in effect for for another 15 years.

Read more of the election results here.

Castor returns to Congress, Hillsborough transportation tax fails

Castor returns to Congress, Hillsborough transportation tax fails

Posted November 9, 2022 at 12:30 AM EST

Democrat Kathy Castor will maintain her Tampa-area U.S. House seat. Meanwhile, a Hillsborough County transportation tax failed to pass.

Castor has been a member of Congress since 2006, but redistricting shifted her Hillsborough County district southwest to encompass parts of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County.

Also Tuesday, the one-cent sales tax referendum for transportation in Hillsborough County was defeated after being on the ballot, and then off, and back on again because of court challenges.

About 51% of voters said no to the plan, and Jim Davison, spokesman of the group, No Tax for Tracks, said he thinks that's the end of the court wrangling, too.

"The county wanted it on. The county got their way and the ballot remained. They have to come up with a new plan."

Davison said he thinks inflation pressures and voter distrust led to the transportation referendum's defeat.

Read more of the election results here.

In Sarasota County, Republican candidates reelected to state and federal seats, penny sales tax passes

Posted November 9, 2022 at 12:29 AM EST

Incumbent Republican Greg Steube beat out Democratic opponent Andrea Kale for the seat representing Florida's 17th congressional district, which includes parts of Sarasota, Charlotte and northeastern Lee counties.

In House District 73, which covers coastal Sarasota, a school teacher lost his bid to unseat incumbent Republican Fiona McFarland, a Navy veteran and former business consultant.

Derek Reich, a 27-year-old government teacher at Sarasota High,ran on a platform of promoting fair civics curriculum in Florida's classrooms.

Voters also approved the extension of a one-percent sales tax in Sarasota County, which applies to local purchases under $5,000 and is added to the state's existing 6 percent sales tax.

County officials say about a quarter of the penny sales tax revenue is generated by tourists, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Read more about the election results here.

Gaetz reelected to U.S. House with victory over former FDOH data analyst Jones

Posted November 8, 2022 at 10:21 PM EST

Incumbent Republican Matt Gaetz has won reelection to the U.S. House in Florida's 1st Congressional District, defeating Democrat Rebekah Jones.

Gaetz, of Fort Walton Beach, received 67 percent of the vote for a commanding victory over Jones, a former Florida Department of Health data analyst.

Jones drew national attention when she said the DeSantis administration manipulated COVID-19 data. She is scheduled to stand trial early next year on charges that she improperly accessed one of the department’s computer systems.

Florida Republican Dunn defeats Lawson in redrawn district

Posted November 8, 2022 at 8:57 PM EST

Republican Rep. Neal Dunn defeated Democratic Rep. Al Lawson for a north Florida congressional seat in a redrawn district that pitted the two incumbents against each other.

Dunn, a surgeon from Panama City, was elected to a fourth term in the U.S. House. Lawson, who is Black, had represented a majority-Black district that was eliminated at the insistence of GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis during redistricting triggered by the 2020 U.S. Census. That move prompted a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, though an appeals court allowed the map to remain in place this year.

The DeSantis-ordered maneuver put the two congressmen in the same district, which is more friendly to Republican candidates. Lawson, a former state legislator from Tallahassee, was first elected to Congress in 2016.

Why AP called the Florida governor's race for Ron DeSantis

Posted November 8, 2022 at 8:28 PM EST

Gov. Ron DeSantis outperformed former Gov. Charlie Crist in a number of areas where Florida Democrats have typically outperformed Republicans.

That’s why AP called the race for DeSantis over the Democrat Crist on Tuesday.

DeSantis was elected four years ago by just 32,000 votes out of 8.2 million cast. Since then, DeSantis has benefited from a rightward shift in Florida, which former President Donald Trump carried by more than 3 points in 2020, and where Republicans now hold a registration advantage of nearly 300,000 voters.

DeSantis has been taking steps toward a possible 2024 presidential run, branding himself in Trump’s mold, and refusing to commit to a full gubernatorial term.

DeSantis defeats Crist, wins 2nd term as Florida governor

Posted November 8, 2022 at 8:18 PM EST
Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis waves as his wife Casey applauds, following a televised debate against Democratic opponent Charlie Crist, in Fort Pierce, Fla., Oct. 24, 2022.
Rebecca Blackwell
Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis waves as his wife Casey applauds, following a televised debate against Democratic opponent Charlie Crist, in Fort Pierce, Fla., Oct. 24, 2022.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection to a second term Tuesday in a victory over Democrat Charlie Crist, bolstering his rise as a prominent GOP star with potential White House ambitions.

DeSantis’ win continues a rightward shift for what was once the nation’s largest swing state, as voters embraced a governor who reveled in culture war politics and framed his candidacy as a battle against the “woke agenda” of liberals.

In the lead-up to the election, DeSantis harnessed the power of incumbency to assemble media, often on short notice and far outside major markets, for news conferences where he would spend significant time honing critiques of Democratic President Joe Biden, liberal policies and the mainstream media, delivered before cheering crowds.

Read more.

Democrat Frost wins Florida US House seat as first Gen Z candidate

Posted November 8, 2022 at 8:07 PM EST
Maxwell Frost speaks during a rally, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Coral Gables, Fla.
Lynne Sladky/AP
Maxwell Frost speaks during a rally, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Coral Gables, Fla.

Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost has defeated Republican Calvin Wimbish for a Florida U.S. House seat, making him the first member of Generation Z to win a seat in Congress.

Frost, a 25-year-old gun reform and social justice activist, ran in a heavily blue Orlando-area district being relinquished by Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who challenged Republican Sen. Marco Rubio this year.

Frost is a former March For Our Lives organizer seeking stricter gun control laws and has stressed opposition to restrictions on abortion rights. Generation Z generally refers to those born between the late 1990s to early 2010s. To become a member of Congress, candidates must be at least 25 years old.

Read more.

As polls get ready to close, SOEs remind voters they can cast a ballot as long as they're in line by 7 p.m.

Posted November 8, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST

DOJ monitoring polling places in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties

Posted November 8, 2022 at 4:31 PM EST

The U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday announced it is monitoring certain polling places in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

The agency says it’s to ensure that the voting locations comply with federal voting rights laws. It did not say why it is monitoring polling places in the three South Florida counties, or which polling places it is monitoring.

Joe Scott , the supervisor of elections for Broward County, said: "The DOJ observers are out and observing our elections. They're not going into the polling place and there's no issues at all."

In response to the agency’s announcement, Florida’s State Department says it is sending its own observers to make sure federal officials do not violate state voting rights laws.

The Department of Justice is also sending monitors to jurisdictions in 23 other states.

Two Tampa voters weigh in

Posted November 8, 2022 at 3:23 PM EST

Voters across the greater Tampa Bay region headed to the polls to cast their ballots.

USF student Jade Santiago, 19, is voting for the first time.

Speaking outside the Marshall Center, Santiago said she supports Charlie Crist for Governor because of issues she's seeing that could affect her in her future career as an educator.

"Our current governor is attacking certain LGBTQ rights, women's rights, education rights, and I went in there keeping that in mind," Santiago said.

Sara Roman works at the University Area Community Complex in Tampa as an outreach coordinator, but took the time to vote during her lunch break.

Roman says she is not bound to party lines when she votes, choosing to support Democrat Val Demings for the U.S. Senate and Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis as governor.

"I think we need to have a mix of diverse and inclusive government," Roman said. "Not only all red or all blue, we need inclusive. Everybody."

Roman says one of the issues that was top of mind going into the polls was accessibility to public transportation.

She says she spent years using transportation services in her 19 years in the Tampa area, and she'd like to see it improve as a way to increase opportunities for low-income residents.

Florida secretary of state reports all polling locations opened on time

Posted November 8, 2022 at 1:58 PM EST

Florida polling places opened on time at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will remain open until 7 p.m.

“This morning, we had zero locations report that they were open late,” Secretary of State Cord Byrd said during a news conference. “Everyone opened on time and were ready for voters.”

The state will start posting results at 8 p.m. Eastern time after polls close in the Panhandle, which is on Central time.

Floridians cast nearly 5 million early ballots amid a national focus on easier access

Posted November 8, 2022 at 1:51 PM EST

Heading into Election Day, nearly 4.92 million Floridians had cast ballots by mail or at early voting sites, according to data posted on the state Division of Elections website.

The data showed that 2,125,330 registered Republicans and 1,809,482 registered Democrats had voted. It also showed that 914,217 unaffiliated voters and 69,903 third-party voters had cast ballots.

Nationally, more than 45 million votes had already been cast, according to the U.S. Elections Project. That’s the most early votes ever cast at this point in a midterm cycle, according to University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald, who runs the project.

Of those, more than 20 million were in person. Mail balloting added more than 25 million from about 58 million ballots requested.

Virtually every U.S. jurisdiction did something to expand access and make voting easier and safer during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, and voters responded: For the first time ever, more than half the electorate cast ballots before Election Day.

The question this year was whether that was a blip or whether we’d look back on 2020 as the election that changed how America votes for good.

Judging by the early vote numbers, experts say it’s looking closer to the latter.

And a big reason for that, says Charles Stewart, an elections expert who founded the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, is a trend toward more early voting access over the past two decades.

A recent report from the Center for Election Innovation & Research found that most U.S. states are offering options to vote early in person or by mail to all voters this year.

"The immovable force in elections over the last 20 years hasn't changed," Stewart told NPR. "And that is voters really demanding more convenience."

Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Trump votes for DeSantis and expects 'a very big night' for Republicans

Posted November 8, 2022 at 1:31 PM EST
Former President Donald Trump walks out with his wife, Melania Trump, after voting at Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach.
Andrew Harnik
Former President Donald Trump walks out with his wife, Melania Trump, after voting at Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach.

Former President Donald Trump cast his ballot in Palm Beach on Tuesday morning, then predicted Republicans would have a “great night."

“I think we’re going to have a very big night and it’s going to be very exciting to watch,” Trump told reporters outside the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center.

Trump added that he voted to reelect fellow Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, even as the two could soon become rivals if — as many expect — they both run for president in 2024.

Trump has yet to say whether he will make a bid at returning to the White House, however, he is planning an announcement in Florida on Nov. 15 that would “be a very exciting day for a lot of people.”

Live Florida Matters coverage tonight on WUSF

Posted November 8, 2022 at 1:20 PM EST

Poll monitors work to ensure Florida voters have access to polls

Posted November 8, 2022 at 1:07 PM EST

Poll monitors with the NAACP have been keeping an eye on polling sites in North Florida to make sure all voters have access to the ballot box. Antonio Ingram, a poll monitor with the Legal Defense Fund, says they’re also keeping an eye out for violations of state and local election laws.

“We’re making sure that there are not any broken poll machines or that voters aren’t having trouble voting at locations or locations being closed, perhaps, being turned away or closing early or not opening up on time, in addition to really making sure there aren’t sort of intimidating factors, whether it be law enforcement or third parties that are impeding the right to vote for individuals,” Ingram says.

Ingram adds that his team didn’t find any problems with early voting in Leon County. Last week, the Legal Defense Fund identified violations in Okaloosa County.

The Legal Defense Fund sent a letter to the Okaloosa elections supervisor Tuesday requesting the removal of a sign that read “Republicans Vote Here,” posted within 150 feet of two early voting sites.

Ingram says his team would be in Jacksonville to monitor polling sites on Election Day.

Crist speaks in St. Pete

Posted November 8, 2022 at 11:46 AM EST

Florida's GOP looks to seize advantage of redrawn House maps

Posted November 8, 2022 at 10:39 AM EST

There will be at least six newcomers to the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s vote from Florida as Republicans try to take advantage of an aggressively redrawn congressional map spearheaded by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In the wake of the 2020 census, DeSantis had ordered the GOP-controlled legislature to adopt a map devised to maximize Republican gains — vetoing the initial GOP-backed map which largely kept intact two seats held by Black Democratic members of Congress.

Heading into this election year, Republicans held 16 seats and Democrats represented 11 from Florida in the House. Florida is gaining a 28th seat due to population growth.

>Read more

Election Day in St. Pete

Posted November 8, 2022 at 10:29 AM EST

Early voters turned out at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg.

Voters turn out at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8, 2022.
Sam Dolson
Voters turn out at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8, 2022.

Solid early turnout in Safety Harbor

Posted November 8, 2022 at 8:22 AM EST

It's Election Day: What you need to know

Posted November 8, 2022 at 6:48 AM EST
It's Election Day across Tampa Bay, Florida
Voting sign

Who will be celebrating in Tampa Bay tonight?

Posted November 8, 2022 at 5:29 AM EST
Charlie Crist, left, and Ron DeSantis
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media; Associated Press
Both Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, left, and incumbent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will hold election night parties in the greater Tampa Bay region.

By the end of Tuesday night's general election, Floridians will likely know who will lead them as governor.

Whether it's incumbent Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis or Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, both will be in the greater Tampa Bay region on election night.

DeSantis, who grew up in Pinellas County, plans to gather with supporters at the Tampa Convention Center.

Crist, meanwhile, is in South Florida before heading home to Pinellas County.

On Tuesday, Crist and his supporters will host a watch party in St. Petersburg. He resigned his seat as U.S representative for Pinellas County's 13th Congressional district to focus on the governor's race.

> Read more

Why elections aren't really over on Election Day

Posted November 8, 2022 at 5:26 AM EST

Unofficial" results have to be reported to the state by four days after the election, said Craig Latimer, supervisor of elections for Hillsborough County.

"We have to have our first unofficial results reported to the state no later than four days after the election," he said. "And it would at that point that we'd also see if we need a recount, possibly. And the reason they go to the state is that you have, oftentimes, state House seats or Senate seats that cross county lines."

And Latimer says "official" returns take even longer.

"In a federal election, we're able to receive overseas military ballots for up to 10 days after the election, as long as they're postmarked by election day," he said. "So the results will not be "official" anywhere in the state until 10 days after the election."

> Read more

A legislative supermajority is possible

Posted November 8, 2022 at 5:24 AM EST

Republicans already control the Florida Legislature. But the outcome of just a few races in Tuesday’s election could make that control even greater.

If Republicans gain just four more seats in the House and four more seats in the Senate, the party will control two-thirds of the votes in both chambers of the state legislature. That would give them a supermajority.

> Read more

Here's how to make sure your mail-in ballot gets counted

Posted November 7, 2022 at 4:55 PM EST

More than2.4 million Floridians have already cast their ballots for the upcoming election by mail.

But what if your ballot got rejected on a technicality? Here's how you can make sure your vote counts.

> Read more

A primer to Florida's election

Posted November 7, 2022 at 4:54 PM EST

Florida, once a state that decided the presidency by 537 votes, could look solid red after Tuesday’s election.

Running for re-election are Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is considered a top candidate for the White House in 2024, and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who had a failed 2016 presidential run and is now seeking his third term.

DeSantis is facing Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor from 2007-2011 who left his seat as a Democratic U.S. representative after winning August’s primary. Rubio faces Democratic Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief who built a national name with a prominent role in then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment and for being on President Joe Biden’s list of possible running mates.

Polls have shown both incumbents with sizeable leads.

> Read more

Who is Ron DeSantis?

Posted November 7, 2022 at 4:52 PM EST

It's hard to believe that the man who barely squeaked by in the race for governor in 2018 is now being touted as a leading candidate for the highest office in the country.

That the impact Ron DeSantis has had in the last four years — and it hasn't been without controversy.

Largely due to his stances on COVID-19 lockdowns and mask mandates, teaching of critical race theory in Florida schools, championing what critics call the "Don't Say Gay Law," and immigration(see his flying about 50 migrants from Texas to Massachusetts), DeSantis has rallied the conservative Republican base and is now widely considered a leading candidate to unseat President Biden in 2024.

> Read more

Who is Charlie Crist?

Posted November 7, 2022 at 4:50 PM EST

The path that Charlie Crist has taken to seek his second term as Florida governor has led him in many different directions — literally.

Newcomers to Florida who will be voting in their first election may see him as a staunch Democrat who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — like Crist, a longtime Pinellas County resident — on issues ranging to abortion, voting rights, education, and personal freedoms.

What they may not realize is that Crist, 66, was once Florida's governor from 2007-11, but as a Republican who replaced term-limited Jeb Bush after defeating Democrat Jim Davis in the general election.

> Read more