Write-in wrap-up

The 2020 presidential write-in results are in, and they suggest some curious things about the Volusia County voting populace.

Actual ballots

A sampling of actual write-in votes cast in the presidential race in Volusia County.

Less than a quarter of a percent of the 308,109 votes cast in the presidential race were for write-in candidates this year, but those 693 voters displayed a big helping of division and diversity.

In an extremely unofficial tally by The Beacon staff, the split ticket of God/Jesus narrowly defeated Kanye West, with 36 write-in ballots for Kanye vs. 38 votes for God and God-related entities.

The next highest vote was for “none” (includes votes for no one, anyone else, other, etc.), which got 26 votes, only narrowly avoiding a three-way tie with Mitt Romney and Bernie Sanders, who each got 25.

In surprising fifth and sixth place, respectively, were Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii (21 votes), and businessman Andrew Yang (20 votes). Both were Democratic candidates who early on dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.

With 11 votes, current Vice President Michael Pence brings up the rear crew, which includes nine votes for Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck, eight votes for Michelle Obama (and one for Barack), five votes for people’s personal pets (as in “my dog” or even “Rick’s dog”), four votes for Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, and three votes for country music star and noted marijuana enthusiast Willie Nelson.

One-vote wonders include baby Yoda, Judge Judy, racial equality, and ham sandwich.

Write-ins

While sometimes overtly ridiculous, write-in votes must be manually checked and considered carefully by elections officials who are likely to have better things to do.

Big takeaways and some surprising Volusia election results

DeLand and Deltona go for Joe Biden, while Pierson, DeBary and Orange City lean to Donald Trump.

On the east side of Volusia County, Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach Shores voted for Trump. While Daytona Beach had more precincts that went for Biden, those precincts also had lower voter turnouts.

That’s a countywide trend: Precincts where Trump had a commanding lead had a comparatively high turnout, generally averaging more than 80 percent (above the countywide turnout of 77.63 percent), while precincts that went overwhelmingly for Biden averaged much lower, generally around 70 percent — and in some cases, as low as 62 percent.

All of the unincorporated (generally more rural) areas we reviewed swung to Trump by a large margin, and had generally high turnouts, averaging more than 80 percent.

But, there were similarities across the board: Jeff Brower, candidate for Volusia County chair, handily won in nearly every precinct reviewed by The Beacon, as did ECHO and Volusia Forever.

Voters weren’t necessarily consistent in leaning to the right. Even in precincts that tended to vote for Trump, Amendment 2, which mandates a minimum-wage increase, generally also gathered more than 60 percent of the vote.

And, following national trends, an overwhelming majority of voters chose to vote by mail or early. According to Lisa Lewis, voter turnout countywide was 77.64 percent; of that, 81 percent voted before Election Day.

Some quirks this year: One precinct in Deltona had a difference of only one vote between the top candidates in the presidential election; historically Black neighborhoods countywide broke with overall trends; and no matter the tilt between Democratic and Republican voters, Volusians said “yes” to increasing the minimum wage.

For all that and more, here’s how the cities voted, precinct by precinct.

City by city

This summation, with one exception, covers only precincts that lie within a town or city.

Pierson: One precinct covers the town, Precinct 105

No big surprises here — with 849 registered voters, rural Pierson went for Donald Trump, 68 percent to Biden’s 29 percent, with a 70-percent voter turnout. Unlike other city precincts that went for Trump, Pierson voters also said no to Amendment 2, the minimum-wage amendment, with 56.51 percent against.

DeLand: The city comprises Precincts 212, 215, 216, 217, 218 and 220

All but one of the six precincts in DeLand went to Biden in the 2020 general election, by varying margins.

The tightest result in the presidential race was in Precinct 212, in northeast DeLand. There, the 2,981 votes cast (a 79.5-percent voter turnout) were nearly evenly distributed between Biden and Trump, with Biden garnering 1,476 to Trump’s 1,429, a difference of only 47 votes.

Trump did win Precinct 215, an area mostly made up of the Victoria Parks area of southeast DeLand, by 54 percent to 44 percent. This precinct also had the highest turnout in the city, with nearly 89 percent of the area's 5,861 registered voters submitting ballots.

In contrast, the areas of southwest DeLand with a higher average of African American voters went overwhelmingly for Biden, and had the lowest voter turnout in the city.

These precincts, 217 and 220 (both have the Chisholm Community Center on Clara Avenue as their polling location), have very different demographics from the overall county and city average — Black voters make up more than 34 percent of the 3,414 registered voters in Precinct 217, for example, much higher than in the city’s population as a whole.

In 217, Biden took nearly 68 percent of the vote for president, while Donald Trump earned 30 percent. Voter turnout was 69 percent.

In Precinct 220 (where only 652 registered voters live, and which includes parts of unincorporated Volusia County in Spring Hill), Black voters account for nearly 74 percent of the total. Here, the difference is even more stark — Biden earned 346 votes, or 87 percent, to Trump’s 47 votes, or 11.8 percent.

Voter turnout at this precinct was low, at 64 percent, tracking with the lower-than-expected Black voter turnout statewide.

The two precincts — 217 and 220 — are also the only ones in the surveyed West Volusia cities that went for Deb Denys in the race for county chair. Countywide, Denys was overwhelmingly defeated by newcomer Jeff Brower.

That tracks with the trend in Daytona Beach — the majority Black precincts went for Biden and Denys, but also had a lower turnout.

DeBary: Precincts 304, 305, 306 and 307

Overall, DeBary voters cast their ballots for Trump, with an excellent voter turnout. All but one precinct had higher than 80 percent — Precinct 306 had an 84-percent showing. The high turnout could be due in part to the seven city-charter amendments also on the 2020 ballot.

Precinct 305, in the southeast part of the city, broke with the pack and voted against the minimum-wage amendment by a small margin, 50.4 percent against, and 49.6 for.

That wasn’t the only close race in DeBary: Nearly every race in Volusia County wasn’t even close — except for DeBary’s charter amendment 4, which aimed to extend the city's time limit to pay back borrowed money. As the nation awaited results of the presidential election Nov. 6, Volusia County recounted that one close race, in which “no” beat “yes” by a mere 18 votes.

After the recount, the vote was still “no” against the amendment, but by 15 votes instead of 18.

Deltona: Precincts 403, 405, 406, 407, 410, 411, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 419, 420, 422 and 423

Only four (411, 413, 420, 423) of Deltona’s 15 precincts tilted to the Republican Party in the presidential race — in one case by a razor-thin margin. In Precinct 423, the area around Lake Gleason, the difference between the top two presidential candidates was one vote, 1,011 to 1,010.

Otherwise, Deltona precincts hewed fairly closely to county trends. Overall, Deltona voters were on the lower end in turnout, averaging around 70 percent.

Lake Helen area: Precincts 222 and 223

Voters in the Lake Helen area, a total of 3,285 registered voters, turned out in a big way, with both precincts reporting turnouts of more than 81 percent. Lake Helen-area voters as a whole tended Republican, with Trump taking both precincts by 64 percent to Biden’s 33 percent.

Like other cities, Lake Helen-area voters seemed to agree on some basics: Newcomer Jeff Brower handily defeated Deb Denys, Amendment 2 (minimum wage) was approved, as were other tax-related amendments, and voters affirmed their support for ECHO and Volusia Forever.

And, as was the case in the rest of the county, most voters in the Lake Helen area cast their ballots before Election Day.

Orange City: Precincts 303 and 309

With 8,582 registered voters and an average 75-percent turnout, Orange City followed the overall county trends, skewing toward Trump in both precincts.