Fired-up Florida Democrats went to early voting sites in droves over the weekend giving the “blue” party an early voting advantage over Republicans. The surge in early voting also closed the gap in turnout between the two parties on the day before the nationally important Florida primary.
Statewide totals were released by the state on Monday and showed that primary turnout is now over 14 percent of the total electorate. The state said that nearly 1.9 million ballots have been cast so far. More people have voted in the 2018 primary than voted in the presidential election primary of 2016.
The overall Republican advantage in turnout, which includes early voters and all voters casting mail ballots, has decreased to just two percentage points (46 percent to 44 percent).
Because of a huge surge in voting over the weekend, on Sunday Democrats overtook Republicans in early voting for the first time. It was a day when candidates and their supporters mobilized large numbers of voters. In addition, the statewide “Souls to the Polls” initiative resulted in mass marches to early voting sites throughout the Sunshine State.
In Broward, a huge amount of activity by all three Democratic candidates for governor saw the early voting total surge to 64,680, larger than any other Florida county on Sunday. In Ft. Lauderdale, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine was photographed marching with a baby.
“At the Souls to the Polls march in Ft Lauderdale, @MayorLevine knows you get extra credit for bringing a baby”
— David Smiley (@NewsbySmiley) August 26, 2018
Another candidate, former representative Gwen Graham, whose father Bob was once Florida governor, sent her own tweet, saying
“Thankful Dad was able to join Senator Chris Smith and leaders in Fort Lauderdale for their huge Souls to the Polls march through the streets. We were reminded today this election is to save lives and the soul of our state.”
Thankful Dad was able to join Senator Chris Smith and leaders in Fort Lauderdale for their huge Souls to the Polls march through the streets.
We were reminded today this election is to save lives and the soul of our state. pic.twitter.com/tMyfSVMyk1
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) August 27, 2018
Pinellas County was the top vote-by-mail county over the weekend, with nearly 121,000 voters returning their ballots, while Miami-Dade County was second and Hillsborough County was third.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday as voters will vote for candidates for governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner.
The Florida Democratic field for governor is crowded, as it includes not only Graham and Levine but also Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene. On the Republican side there is a battle between Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam and Congressman Ron DeSantis, who has been endorsed by President Trump.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.