Florida Primary 2020: Hot races to watch, voter turnout, COVID-19 changes at the polls, and more
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots in Florida’s primary election.
Florida is a closed primary state, which means you can only vote for candidates in your registered political party. The polls were open on Election Day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
“Any voters waiting in line at 7:00 p.m. will have the opportunity to cast a ballot,” according to the Florida Division of Elections website.
Hundreds of thousands either voted early already or cast their ballots by mail prior to election day. So far, statewide, 2.6 million mail-in ballots of been counted -- nearly double the amount of the 2016 primary.
RELATED: Primary voting in Florida tops 2.6 million, with nearly 80 percent voting by mail
Central Florida elections officials say you may notice some changes at polling sites. Those changes include requirements to wear a face mask, plexiglass barriers, and social distancing.
"Wear a mask, bring gloves," advises Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles. "Bring your own sanitizer if you want. We'll have extra gloves, we'll have extra masks if you forget to bring one."
So far, voting in Florida has gone smoothly. Secretary of State Laurel Lee said nearly all polling places across the state opened on time for Tuesday’s primary elections, with only minor issues reported.
FOX 35 visited several polling locations across Central Florida. In-person turnout was smaller than the 2016 primary election but voter turnout has actually surpassed that year's numbers already. Many more people are voting by mail or voting early.
One of the most-watched races on Tuesday will be the race for the next State Attorney in Orange and Osceola Counties. Four contenders are competing to replace Aramis Ayala. They are Deborah Barra, Monique Worrell, Ryan Williams, and Belvin Perry.
Three of the candidates have been highly critical about outside money influencing the race, including the ACLU and the George Soros PAC.
The winner on Tuesday will take the seat in November, as there is no Republican challenger on the ticket.
Another closely-watched race will is the Orange County Sheriff position, currently filled by Democrat John Mina. Five Democrats total are vying for the job and whoever wins on Tuesday gets it.
Sheriff John Mina is fighting to keep his job. The former Orlando Police Chief was elected as Sheriff in 2018. During the protests earlier this year following the death of George Floyd, he took a knee and prayed with demonstrators. The Sheriff said that community involvement is one of his priorities.
Another contender, Joe Lopez, is a veteran who went on to work within the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). He said that he would like to focus on repeat offenders who are committing 80 percent of the violent crime in the country.
Candidate Eric McIntyre is also running and previously worked as a patrol deputy with the Orange County Sheriff's Office before becoming the police chief in Eatonville. He pledges to address domestic violence and drug issues.
Andrew Darling, another contender, is a public defender in Orange County who worked on Andrew Gillum's campaign for Governor. He wants to reform the criminal justice system by focusing on equal justice and safer communities.
Darryl Sheppard is also running for the job. He is a police academy graduate with a business background hoping to take the Sheriff's Office in a new direction.
Tune in to FOX 35 News on Tuesday night for live coverage of the election results as they come in.