The number of votes cast topped 5 million during the weekend as early voting wrapped up in most of the state, with Democrats inching slightly ahead of Republicans in overall ballots.
The 5.11 million votes cast as of Monday morning represented nearly 38.5 percent of the state’s 13.27 million registered voters, according to numbers posted by the state Division of Elections. Registered Democrats had cast nearly 25,000 more votes than registered Republicans. More Republicans have returned vote-by-mail ballots, while Democrats have turned out in higher numbers to early voting sites.
Carol Weissert, a political-science professor at Florida State University, said high-profile and close races for U.S. Senate and the governor’s office led many people to make up their minds early in the process. “This has been a very competitive race at the top of the ticket, for both Republicans and Democrats,” Weissert said. “There’s been a lot of attention on the campaign. It makes sense that there is more early voting and absentee voting.”
Early voting sites remained open Monday in six Panhandle counties that were hardest-hit by Hurricane Michael. To meet the 50.5 percent turnout in the 2014 mid-term election, an additional 1.61 million voters will have to cast ballots by the end of Tuesday. An additional 1.37 million voters would be needed to top the 48.8 percent turnout in 2010.