Florida’s Early Voting May Prove Crucial
With all eyes trained on the elections today in Colorado (and to a lesser extent those in Connecticut, Georgia, and Minnesota), the start of early voting in Florida’s primary yesterday took place amidst little fanfare.
But the time between today and August 24, the date of Florida’s primary, will prove crucial for Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), as he attempts to regain his footing against upstart billionaire challenger, Jeff Greene, in Florida’s Democratic senate primary. Early voting will also make the difference between Rick Scott, a former hospital executive, and his challenger Bill McCollum, the state’s attorney general, for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
Because both races are so close, each campaign’s success at turning out voters during the upcoming two week stretch will also be crucial. Early voting is a growing trend among states that, the Times notes, initially made Democrats rather anxious when it was instituted:
Democrats in particular have experienced a change of heart with the extended process. When it first went into effect in 2002, some feared it was a trick engineered by the Republican-controlled Legislature to suppress turnout. As recently as 2008, some African-American voters feared that it led to greater disenfranchisement for one reason or another.
Two years later, Democrats have more confidence in the system, which may be a product of electoral math. The latest registration figures show Democrats with a 612,000-voter advantage over Republicans, up from about 466,000 before the 2008 primary, and 300,000 in 2006, a bright spot heading toward the general election.
As for the upcoming primary election, the benefits for either Democrat are less clear. Most studies show that early voters are more partisan, wealthier, and better educated, but Meek thinks it could help his campaign’s efforts in getting working parents and the elderly to the polls:
“I’ve always been a strong proponent of early voting,” he said. “We want to make sure we drive the vote out with the Democratic vote showing up not only in South Florida but all across Florida.”