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Gayle Harrell and Erin Grall Are Already the De-Facto State Senators Elect for the Treasure Coast

Gayle Harrell and Erin Grall
Gayle Harrell (L) and Erin Grall are not on any of the Treasure Coast election ballots this year, but they'll be sworn in as State Senators in January because they ran unopposed

Treasure Coast - Wednesday November 2, 2022: The Treasure Coast is sending two well-known local politicians back to Tallahassee next year. Neither one is on any of the Treasure Coast ballots though.

Erin Grall and Gayle Harrell are both Republicans who currently represent parts of the Treasure Coast in Tallahassee. Grall as a State Representative, Harrell is a State Senator.

Earlier this year Grall decided to make a run for the State Senate in the newly created Florida Senate District 29 which covers Indian River, parts of Okeechobee and St. Lucie Counties. She is not on the ballot in any of those counties because she is running unopposed in a brand-new district that previously had no representative.

Indian River County Supervisor of Elections Leslie Swan. “When your unopposed your deemed to have voted for yourself, so there is nobody to put on the ballot that’s running against her so you don’t put it on the ballot.”

Gayle Harrell is not on the ballot either. A Republican former State Representative, who in 2018 was elected as the State Senator from District 25 which previously covered St. Lucie, Martin and northern Palm Beach Counties. Following re-districting early this year Harrell filed to run again for State Senator in the newly reconfigured District 31 which constitutes different parts of the same counties. Martin County Supervisor of Elections Viki Davis. “She will be re-sworn in in January but she is the State Senator elect for District 31.”

You might think that an unopposed candidate’s name should still be on the ballot with a line underneath for a write in in case someone wants to vote for someone else. But no, says Swan. "The only time there is a line for write-in means that there were candidates that qualified as write-in candidates. So, only if a voter writes the name of a legitimate person that filed as a write-in will that vote count for that write-in candidate.”

Out of the 40 Florida State Senate races, 15 are uncontested, according to the Florida Department of State Elections Division website. 10 republicans and 5 democrats, including Harrell and Grall, are unopposed. On the House side, 45 candidates seeking one of the 120 seats in the Florida House of Representatives are also unopposed, 31 republicans 14 are democrats.

Florida Statute Section 101.151(7): “Except for justices or judges seeking retention, the names of unopposed candidates shall not appear on the general election ballot. Each unopposed candidate shall be deemed to have voted for himself or herself.”
Florida Department of State: "These candidates will appear on the Official State Canvass as winning without opposition."