ORLANDO, Fla. - This weekend was the last chance to vote early in important local elections in Orange and Osceola Counties. Lots of attention was on next year's presidential vote, but Orange County elections officials say local races could make a big difference in policies that affected people, on a more personal level.
"We see those voters that come every four years to just vote for president, but I think your local election is what impacts you more as a citizen, directly," said Lymari Perez, Orange County early voting coordinator.
The next chance to vote would be Election Day, on November 7. For Orlando residents, there was the race for city mayor. Incumbent Buddy Dyer was up against three challengers: Steve Dixon, Samuel Ings, and Tony Vargas.
Then there is the Orlando City Council, where two districts were up for a vote. In District 4, incumbent commissioner Patty Sheehan was running against Katie Koch and Randy Ross. In District 6, incumbent commissioner Bakari Burns was up against Rufus Hawkins. These city races were non-partisan, and one had to live in that district to vote in the race.
There was also a special election primary for Florida House District 35, which covered parts of Orange and Osceola Counties. For the democrats, the candidates were Rishi Bagga, Marucci Guzman, and Tom Keen. On the republican side, candidates were Erika Booth, Kenneth Davenport, and Scotty Moore. One had to live in District 35 to vote in this race, and on Election Day everyone must vote in their specific precincts.
"For Election Day, unfortunately you have to go to your assigned polling location," Perez said.
On Election Day, polls in Orange and Osceola Counties would be open from 7 am to 7 pm. Orange County had nine days of early voting. Perez said there were fewer early ballots than they'd expected. "We are closer to 3,000 voters in the last eight days. It's kind of a low number, so it's an indication that maybe a lot of people don't know we have a special election going on, or they have not received their sample postcard in the mail."