With just days to go before the August 30 primary elections, the early voting is going very slowly for all political parties.
As of Friday morning, just 351,488 early voters had cast ballots across the state of Florida, with Republicans slightly ahead (170,102) of Democrats (155,758) according to the Florida Division of Elections.
However, in Orange and Osceola counties early voting favors Democrats, as does the vote by mail. Then again, Orange and Osceola are predominantly Democrat, while Seminole is mostly Republican.
Early voting in Florida ends Saturday, August 27, and voters do not appear to be taking advantage of the one of two ways to cast ballots ahead of election day in Florida – the other being vote by mail – placing the onus on election day turnout.
Many races likely will be decided in the primaries, not in the November election. For example, in Kissimmee the winner of the mayoral race is the city’s next mayor –and the winner will be the first Hispanic mayor of Kissimmee. The race essentially comes down to City Commissioner José Alvarez and former commissioner Art Otero.
In addition, the race for Congressional District 9, which covers parts of Orange, Osceola and Polk counties, and leans Democrat and Hispanic, also is highly likely to be decided in the August primary among State Sen. Darren Soto, Susannah Randolph, Dena Minning Grayson and Valleri Crabtree. A social media dispute has broken out between the Grayson and Randolph camps, creating more uncertainty in that race. (Randolph is Grayson’s former district director.)
In the three-county area, Democrats in Orange and Osceola appear to be voting early in greater numbers than Republicans.
In Orange, about twice as many Democrats (10,390) as Republicans (5,145) have voted early. In Osceola, 56 percent of all early voters are Democrats (2,070) versus Republicans (1,279).
Meanwhile, in Seminole, where Republicans dominate, 55 percent of early voters are Republicans, compared with 36 percent who are Democrat.
Those who don’t affiliate with any political party or NPA voters often determine the outcome of general elections, but they cannot vote in political party primaries, accounting for their low numbers. NPA voters, however, can vote on the constitutional amendment on solar energy and certain local nonpartisan races.
Only 1,582 NPA voters have cast ballots in Orange, while only 288 have done so in Osceola and 536 in Seminole. In all of Florida, 21,814 NPA voters have gone to the polls, just 6 percent of all early voters, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Vote by Mail
Voting by mail is a more popular alternative among all voters, with over 1 million Floridians having voted by mail thus far. Republicans have cast 525,000 mail ballots versus 408,049 for Democrats. The remainder are “other” and NPA voters.
At the local level, mail ballots favor Democrats, with 21,092 having voted by mail In Orange versus 18,008 Republicans. In Osceola, Democrats have cast 7,976 mail ballots, compared with 5,876 for Republicans.
In Seminole, nearly 12,400 Republicans have voted by mail versus 7,140 Democrats.
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor