JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Eleven days before Election Day, more than 2 million Floridians have cast ballots, either early or by mail. While that’s only 15 percent of registered voters, more ballots were cast by Thursday than voted early or absentee in the total August primary voting period.
That’s before many smaller counties open their eight days of early voting, which happens Saturday. Early voting continues through next week, then all precincts are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 6.
Voting early is also trending higher than the last midterm election. The three largest South Florida counties reported turnout on opening day of early voting was double or higher than was recorded in 2014.
No votes are actually counted until the polls close on Election Day, but analysts try to read the political tea leaves by analyzing the early voting pattern. Just over 60,000 Republicans than Democrats had voted by Thursday evening, but there about 350,000 ballots have been cast by voters not affiliated with any political party. Most of them will likely vote for Republican Ron DeSantis or Democrat Andrew Gillum rather than the reform candidate or one of four NPA candidates on the ballot for governor -- but for which one?
“All signs point to a higher turnout election,” Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida who closely tracks early vote tallies, told The Hill. “Where we can make comparisons, so far the numbers are up from 2014.”
Florida averages just over 50 percent turnout in midterm elections -- more than 20 percent below that of presidential election years. Florida voters have 11 days to break that pattern. With a high-profile U.S. Senate and a governor races in the balance, the nation is watching.
Florida voter turnout in general elections over the years
Data: Florida Division of Elections