Power outages in pinellas county cause concern about polling sites electricity in water


The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office said the power was out for 10 minutes at precincts 203 and 204 at Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church in St. Petersburg. At precinct 205, Prayer Tower Church of God, the power was out for close to 45 minutes. Everyone was able to vote.

Heidi Kay, who lives in the East Lake area of northeast Pinellas, went to vote at the East Lake Community Library after the power went out at her house, preventing her from doing computer work. Then she found the power was out at the polling place, too.

A morning storm had blown tree branches into power lines, causing a small fire down the street from the library, according to Rob Sumner, spokesman for Progress Energy. From about 8:36 to 9:33 a.m., workers kept the power off while they cleared away the debris.

"It wasn’t pitch black, but it wasn’t particularly easy to see the ballot, so it was a good thing I didn’t have to read all that print,” she said. "But I just want to say that I left feeling very proud. You hear about all this trouble, and here in East Lake, they got it right.”

4:20 p.m., Hernando County: As of late afternoon, nearly every precinct in Hernando was reporting voter turnout in excess of 50 percent. The two highest were in the Timber Pines retirement community in Spring Hill. Precinct 35, at the Timber Pines Lodge, reported 80 percent turnout; the turnout in Precinct 47, at the Timber Pines Performing Arts Center, was 84 percent.

A new interactive map available through the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office showed voter turnout. Links to the map can be found at the elections office website, hernandovotes.com, and on the county’s website, hernandocounty.us.

Later, Dara Lindenbaum of the Lawyers Committee said voters had been given incorrect instructions to vote provisionally at the University Area Community Development Center on N 22nd Street in Tampa. The center contains the polling place for precincts 562, 566 and 567.

"Remember the law in Florida," Arnwine said during a teleconferenced briefing held by the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition. "Florida is a correct precinct voting state. So when you’re sent to a wrong precinct to vote and vote a provisional ballot, there’s a huge problem about whether or not it will be counted. And here it’s not the voters’ error. It’s an administrative decision of the poll workers at polling places to send them to the wrong precinct. We’re very worried."

In a news release, the elections office reminded voters to vote in their precincts on election day or to go to any of the four offices of the Supervisor of Elections and obtain an "in-person" absentee ballot. The addresses of those offices are at votehillsborough.org. Click on the absentee ballot instructions highlighted in yellow.

Moments later, Pamela Fowler, on disability after suffering strokes, said she voted for Obama, in part because of his support of the automobile industry in the beginning of his term, his focus on Hurricane Sandy recovery during the campaign and his health care reform.

He said Precinct 579’s usual voting location had changed, although he was never notified — the building was empty when he arrived. Brady saw a polling place at a nearby church, but was turned away because it was for a different precinct. He eventually found his way to St. Mary’s.

"I know friends that do early voting because it’s easier for them, but that’s not for me," Bessel said as she stood in line waiting to vote at the Heather Community Center. "Being here and seeing people exercising an important right is what makes us Americans."

Several voters reported that they were turned away when they attempted to vote at the National Guard Armory on Spring Hill Drive. Their polling places had changed since the 2010 election, and they were told they had to vote at their new precinct.

10:15 a.m., South Pasadena: Precinct 214 had 80 ballots that couldn’t be counted because they got wet, according to poll worker Tim Bledsoe. The scanner kept rejecting the ballots so the workers put them in a locked separate area of the scanner box. They said they will try to rescan them at 7 pm.

9:30 a.m., University of South Florida/Tampa: It took students about an hour to make it through the line this morning at USF’s voting precinct in the Marshall Student Center. Most students waited silently. Two young women at the front of the line took photos of themselves, saying, "I look great, not gonna lie."

Becky Killik, a second-year master’s student studying women’s and gender studies, said they would be out there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. She said they have been visiting local polling stations, the school library and other areas breaking down the 11 proposed Florida amendments to voters.

"Obamacare is going to hurt patients in the long run,” she said. "Eventually it is going to decrease doctor reimbursements and increase our patient load. Doctors are only human. Eventually, more patients is going to affect quality of care.”

7 a.m., Land O’Lakes: More than 100 voters stood outside the Land O’Lakes Recreation Center in the pouring rain as the precinct opened, their line winding around the building as they waited for their chance to vote. It took about 30 minutes to get inside from the back of the queue.

"I’m a Republican who voted for Obama because I do not like what Mitt Romney did not say about health care," Millar said, explaining that she feared that Romney would hurt Social Security, Medicare and health insurance programs. "I worked very hard in the early ’70s to change women’s health and women’s rights. I do not want to see those things go down the tubes."