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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A big surge of 'unlikely' primary voters? Not in Tampa Bay



County election officials in Tampa Bay say they are not seeing a big surge of first-time primary voters that the Florida Chamber of Commerce says it has discovered in a review of who's voting in advance of Tuesday's primary.

Election supervisors in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties say they're seeing nothing statistically out of the ordinary.

In fact, Pinellas says more first-time voters cast ballots in the last primary in 2014 than so far in this one. Through Friday, Aug. 26, Pinellas said 20.5 percent of its voters had voted in none of the last four statewide primary elections, and two years ago, the figure was 21.3 percent.

"It's not an anomaly by any means," said Jason Latimer, a spokesman for Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. 

In Tampa, Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer's office said that through Friday, 21,329 county voters had not previously voted in a primary, which also equals about 20 percent of Hillsborough ballots cast through that date.

University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith, an elections data geek, also discounted the Chamber's analysis on his blog. As first noted by Politico Florida, Smith wrote on his blog that the Chamber's numbers "don't add up."

The Chamber's take is that a surprisingly high number of voters in this election are first-timers who were not targeted by candidates or parties and some pollsters, for that matter, which the Republican-aligned group says could produce some big upsets on Tuesday. But time will tell.

[Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2016 12:45pm]


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