Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Absentee vote requests are soaring

TAMPA — Here's one more sign that resentment over the snubbing of Florida voters in the presidential primary has dissipated.

Requests for absentee ballots are soaring in Tampa Bay area counties, a bellwether region in this hard-fought swing state.

Coupled with increases in registered voters, demand for absentee ballots is another indication that Florida is done with the squabble over its early primary, and could see record turnout.

"There's a lot of interest in the presidential race and a lot of excitement," said Greg Truax, co-chairman for Republican John McCain's campaign in Hillsborough County. "So it's not surprising that those numbers are up."

In Hillsborough County, 74,047 people have requested ballots to vote by mail as of midafternoon Thursday. That's about 11 percent of registered voters.

Slightly more than 12 percent of voters requested absentee ballots in 2004. With six weeks before the election, and requests coming in at well over 1,000 a day, Hillsborough should easily eclipse the 2004 absentee showing.

"We typically see a spike the closer we get to the election," said Jennifer Marks, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson.

The numbers are more striking in Pinellas County, where Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark heavily promotes voting by mail over early voting. There, poll workers at precincts and early voting sites make it a practice to encourage those who visit to consider absentee voting.

Clark's has already received nearly 106,000 absentee ballot requests, compared with just over 100,000 in 2004. That's nearly 17 percent of registered voters, already nearly surpassing the rate of requests four years ago with more than a month to go.

"We believe that people are anxious to vote by mail, especially now that everyone is getting a paper ballot," said Clark's communications director, Nancy Whitlock. "They're getting the same ballot they would get at the polls."

A little more than 23,000 people have requested absentee ballots in Pasco County, where comparable numbers were not available for 2004. However, Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said nearly 35,000 cast absentee ballots that year.

With requests for absentee ballots coming in at a pace of about 800 daily and likely to climb, Corley said he fully expects to surpass the 2004 showing. He said about 85 percent of those who request absentee ballots return them.

"We're expecting a very high turnout, a very high return," Corley said.

Absentee ballots can be requested through Oct. 29.

There is one caveat to the numbers. Voters can check a box on request forms and ask to receive absentee ballots through two general elections, a change put in effect last year.

Previously voters could request ballots only for elections that take place within the year they made the request. So many of the people receiving ballots may be getting them because they have requested one in the past.

This is the second presidential election in which voters in Florida are permitted to vote by mail without having to show they will be out of town on Election Day, which is Nov. 4.

Historically, Republicans have enjoyed an edge in mobilizing voters to cast absentee ballots. Truax said campaign volunteers have been promoting mail voting at community events, during political rallies and in door-to-door campaigning.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said volunteers for his party are doing the same. He predicted a strong showing from both new voters and those voting by mail.

Voter anger over the initial refusal by the Democratic National Committee to seat Florida delegates because of the state's decision to hold an early primary has long worn off, Jotkoff said.

"We've seen a huge surge in Democratic absentee ballot requests," he said. "Normally the Republicans beat us on that. Floridians are excited about voting for Barack Obama and Democratic candidates up and down the ticket."

Times staff writer Will Van Sant contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at varian@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

Absentee vote requests are soaring 09/27/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 3:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.