The first look at Florida’s first votes of the August primaries

The first look at Florida’s first votes of the August primaries

Bottom Line: Early voting doesn’t begin until next week, however with record absentee ballots being requested, votes have already begun to be received in 66 of Florida’s 67 counties (with only DeSoto yet to begin). Here’s look at where we stand with the first votes of the August 18th primaries already in hand.

Total absentee ballots requested:

  • 2018 primaries – 2,566,053
  • 2020 primaries – 3,830,749

That’s a 49% increase in requested absentee ballots over just two years ago. Clearly the pandemic drove demand, hence why ballots are already being counted. But requested votes and actually casting those votes are two entirely different things. For example, in the 2018 Florida primaries, only 53% of requested absentee ballots were returned. Already, 22% of all absentee ballots requested have been returned for this cycle. It appears likely there will be a higher return rate this year. Here’s a look at the partisan breakout of ballots requested and already cast.

Percentage of ballots requested:

  • Democrats: 46.3%
  • Republicans: 32.7%
  • NPA: 19.9%

Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.8% in voter registration. Absentee ballot requests by Democrats far outpaced Republicans on a relative basis. Republicans have typically been more likely to vote in person, especially on Election Day in Florida previously. Will that be the case again? During this atypical year we won’t know until we get there but it’s clear Democrats were far more motivated to request absentee ballots than Republicans for the primaries. What do the early returns show?

Percentage of ballots returned:

  • Democrats: 46.6%
  • Republicans: 37.9%
  • NPA: 14.7%

Clearly Democrats have the early lead on votes already received, though Republicans have already narrowed the gap based on difference in votes requested. On a relative basis Republicans have been the most likely to return a ballot, followed by Democrats, with NPA’s lagging. It’s typical to see NPA’s vote at a lower percentage in primary elections due to their inability to vote in partisan contests, however many elections will be decided August 18th, and every voter in South Florida has elections to vote for on their ballots regardless of party registration. To be continued...

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