Record early voting in Florida
Garth A. Rose
Early voting ended with a big bang in Florida yesterday. Data obtained from the Florida Division of Elections indicated a record 3,9 million voters casted votes. In South Florida tri-county region early voting also saw a record of some 1.1 million votes. When mail in votes are added, some 6.4 million Floridians voted as of Monday morning. The data also indicates some 88,000 more registered Democrats have cast votes compared to Republicans..
Votes already cast also include 1,2 million independent voters. It will not be known what party or which candidate these voters cast their votes for until the votes are counted after 7:00 pm on Election Day, tomorrow Nov 8.
In the first week of early voting although voting was steady there was concern, especially with signs of a dip in turnout after FBI Director James Comey announced the FBI would be investigating a batch of emails indirectly related to Hillary Clinton misuse of a private server when she was secretary of state. There was also concern Black voters were not showing enthusiasm in the elections. However, as the second week of early voting progressed early voting spiked. On Sunday, the last day of early voting some 44,219 votes were cast in Broward County a record for a day’s voting since early voting commenced in 2004.
In the last days of early voting a surge in both Hispanic and black voters was noticeable. While, according to the prevailing data, the black vote was down some 3 percent in South Florida compared to 2012 when Barack Obama was seeking reelection as president, this decline was compensated by an increase of some 7 percent in the Hispanic votes, most of whom are believed to have voted for Clinton.
It’s projected the tremendous interest generated during the last days of early voting will carry over to Election Day. There’s still expectation that a record number of black voters will turn out.
With some 60 percent of Floridians having voted it should be much easier and faster for voters to vote on Tuesday. This would be unlike the situation in the 2012 elections when voters especially in Miami-Dade where still in voting lines long after the polls officially closed at 7:00 pm.
In all three South Florida counties voters expressed satisfaction with the electoral operations during early voting which reduced voting-wait time to an average of 20 minutes compared to 45 minutes in 2012. Moreover, aiding early voting turnout in this election is that early voting days were extended from 7 to 14 days and there were some 20 more polling places in the region, compared to 2012.
For Election Day, Christina White head of Miami Dade’s Election Department has assured voters the operations will be as smooth as during the early voting period. The county has brought in more voting equipment and added more voting places that should enhance the voting process on Election Day.