The 2018 Florida midterms were one of the most contentious elections in the country. Tight races, recounts, and a category four hurricane all impacted the election.
Now two months after Hurricane Michael, federal and state election officials are examining how Bay County pulled off the midterm election.
“You look at the turnout. You had a 2 percent higher turn out in this election than they had four years ago when they didn’t have all the devastation,” said Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections President Paul Lux.
United States Election Assistance Chair Thomas Hicks and Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections President Paul Lux toured the Bay County Supervisor of Elections office to learn about their challenges. Hicks praised Mark Andersen for his efforts to get information to voters crediting his experience in the Navy.
“The challenges people face goes toward the fortitude they build upon themselves and being ex-navy, he showed his skills were being used as supervisor,” said Hicks.
Andersen said the biggest lesson was learning how to communicate with his remaining team after losing so many after the storm when they too were dealing with the devastation.
“How hard to push them, when you push them, when to not push them… you just never know when people will get that emotion from what we went through,” said Andersen.
He said it helped the majority of voting equipment survived and computer systems and postal services resumed shortly after, but structural damage is likely to impact future elections.
“Lynn Haven doesn’t even have a city hall and the building we use for early voting isn’t even there,” said Andersen.
It’s another issue the office will take on ahead of the 2019 municipal elections, which they are already planning.