Primary voter turnout nears 2 million and will easily break 2014 total

Democratic turnout is up nearly 70 percent over the last midterm primary in 2014.
A sign outside a precinct in Crystal Beach [Doug Clifford - Times]
A sign outside a precinct in Crystal Beach [Doug Clifford - Times]
Published Aug. 28, 2018|Updated Aug. 28, 2018

Nearly 2 million Florida voters had cast ballots before polls opened across the state Tuesday, ensuring that overall turnout will easily eclipse the 2.1 million total in the last midterm primary in 2014.

It's possible that turnout could set a new record for a primary in a midterm election. The record turnout for a midterm primary in Florida is 2.6 million in 2002, or 29 percent.

The election supervisor in Tampa said more than 1,000 people voted in the first eight minutes after polls opened Tuesday.

It will take a massive election day outpouring of voters at the polls for voter turnout to set an all-time record for a Florida primary: Nearly 3 million cast ballots in the 2016 primary.

Even before polls opened on election day, Democratic primary turnout is already 69.5 percent higher this year than it was four years ago. Through Monday, 841,000 Democrats had voted, compared to 496,000 in the 2014 primary.

Despite the surge, there are still more unreturned vote-by-mail ballots (1.32 million) than returned (1.27 million), but that margin continues to narrow.

Election Protection, a nationwide voter protection group, says it will have a toll-free hotline open until 10 p.m. on Tuesday to help voters. The phone number is 866-OUR-VOTE. The group is supported by Lawyers for Civil Rights Under Law.