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Votes on Volusia County’s referendum on adding a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation and water projects are trickling into the Department of Elections office, as the May 21 deadline looms.

As of May 14, 85,552 ballots had made their way back to elections officials, either through the mail or through being dropped off at a designated site.

Ballots were sent May 1 to Volusia County’s 400,000-or-so registered voters, and completed ballots must be returned to the Department of Elections office by 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, to be counted.

So far, the turnout rate is just over 21 percent.

For comparison, turnout during the August 2018 primary election was 29.8 percent, while 60.4 percent of registered voters turned out for the November 2018 general election.

The sales-tax turnout so far is higher compared to three special elections earlier this year in Port Orange and Edgewater, where between 10 percent and 15 percent of voters cast ballots.

Of the returned ballots, 38,684 came from registered Republicans, 27,572 from Democrats, and 19,296 from independents or members of other parties.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood made waves by coming out in favor of the tax.

The sheriff said he originally planned to vote no, due to “shady” behavior by the Volusia County Council.

“Then I realized my NO vote doesn’t punish the County Council. It punishes everyone else,” Chitwood wrote. “I cannot deny the need for this infrastructure funding. It’s right in front of us. If we don’t act, I know our quality of life will suffer. And I realize now that it’s up to us, not the County Council, to fix this.”

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