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Florida's election trend: one fourth of the legislature elected without a contest

In an election season dominated by headlines of voter fraud, dirty tricks and enormous campaign checks, two troubling trends have gotten little attention: low voter turnout and dozens of unopposed candidates.

On Aug. 14, just two of every 10 registered voters showed up to vote in the statewide primary election. And only nine of 158 legislative primaries had more than 10 percent of voters cast a ballot, a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times analysis found.

Turnout was so light in Miami Dade and Broward counties, that newcomers Manny Diaz Jr., David Richardson and Rick Stark won seats to the state House in elections that had less than 3,300 total votes. Three candidates were elected with razor-thin margins of 13, 17 and 46 votes.
In many cases, no voters were even needed. That’s because about one in four legislative candidates had no opposition at all.

Shevrin Jones, a 28-year-old Democrat from West Park and a teacher at Florida Atlantic University High School, walked into office after two challengers dropped out of the race for the newly-drawn south Broward district.

“I was surprised [at no opposition],” said Jones, who credited his activism in the community for turning away opponents. Story here.