Islanders cast party ballots for presidential candidates

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Election deputy Amy Krueger welcomes Anna Maria voters Barbara and Tom Ehren to the polls March 17 for the Florida Presidential Preference Primary. The Ehrens were the first in their precinct to cast ballots at Roser Memorial Community Church. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
People line up March 17 inside the activity center at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach. They were Holmes Beach voters casting ballots in Florida’s Presidential Preference Primaries. At island polling locations, sanitizers were provided for door handles and ballot stations as a COVID-19 precaution. And some voters appeared to maintain “social distancing.” Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
Keeping a tradition, the results of the Florida Presidential Preference Primary are posted to the door of the Bradenton Beach Fire House, where voters in precinct 307 cast ballots March 17. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Barbara Ehren put on her surgical gloves and kept her primary obligation March 17.

Ehren was the first to the ballot box at Anna Maria’s precinct 301, casting her vote in the Florida Presidential Preference Primaries.

She arrived to the polling place at Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., shortly before 7 a.m., wearing gloves as a precaution against the new coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19.

“Passion,” Ehren said brought her out on primary day.

“Democracy,” she added.

“Duty,” she continued.

“All those things.”

Second in line was husband Tom.

They were greeted by a first-time election deputy Amy Krueger, outfitted with sanitizing wipes, three beverage mugs and a beach chair.

“I’ll open the door,” Krueger told the voters, who kept their distance.

Islanders also went to the polls in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach to find ballots and sanitizer and occasionally lines to vote.

Islandwide, their choices aligned with the state’s and, for the most part, other states, with former Vice President Joe Biden garnering the most votes on the Democratic side and President Donald J. Trump accumulating the highest numbers for the GOP side.

In Anna Maria, Democratic voters went for Biden at 67.96%, casting 124 votes for him, and 18.78% for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who received 34 votes.

Republican voters went 91.03% for Trump and the next highest vote-getter was former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who received 4.49%.

In Holmes Beach’s precinct 303, Trump received 203 votes or 91.86% and, on the Dems’ side, Biden had 120 votes or 66.67%, followed by Sanders with 16.11% or 29 votes.

In Holmes Beach’s precinct 305, Trump received 195 votes or 95.59% and, on the Democratic side, Biden had 140 votes or 71.07%, followed by Sanders at 13.2% or 26 votes.

In Bradenton Beach’s precinct 307, Trump received 102 votes or 95.33% and, on the Democratic side, Biden received 58 votes or 52.73%, followed by Sanders at 25.45% with 28 votes.

Manatee County has 70 precincts and 190,501 registered voters. With votes 69,647 votes cast, turnout was at 36.56%.

But turnout was slightly higher in three of the island’s four precincts.

With 814 eligible voters in Anna Maria, turnout was 41.305, with the highest number — 169 — casting ballots on Election Day.

In Holmes Beach’s precinct 303, which has 972 eligible voters, turnout was 40.7%. Vote by mail, with 241 ballots cast, outpaced other options.

Holmes Beach’s precinct 305 has 1,044 eligible voters and 38.8% turned out. Again, vote by mail outpaced early voting and Election Day voting, with 254 ballots sent in.

In Bradenton Beach, with 538 eligible voters, turnout was 40.3%, with 122 ballots cast by mail, 11 in early voting and 84 on Election Day.

Turnout in Manatee was higher in the 2016 presidential preference primary at 53.21% but the choices were different then, as nominations in both parties were still hotly contested.

Like Barbara Ehren, other islanders said they went to the polls March 17 because they are passionate about politics, devoted to democracy and committed to candidates.

But more than a few — keeping their distance from the reporter — said they might switch to voting by mail before the Nov. 3 general election.

Statewide, Biden received 61.94% of the vote in the Democratic contest and Trump received 93.8% of the vote in the GOP race.


Did you know?

Anna Maria’s precinct 301 has 1,055 registered voters, including 327 Democrats and 483 Republicans.

Holmes Beach’s precinct 303 has 1,278 registered voters, including 328 Democrats and 646 Republicans.

Holmes Beach’s precinct 305 has 1,451 registered voters, including 418 Democrats and 630 Republicans.

Bradenton Beach’s precinct 307 has 745 registered voters, including 226 Democrats and 308 Republicans.