- 2012 - October - 9th -

Voter registration closes today

by David Royse, The News Service of Florida

Today is the final day to register to vote for Floridians who want to cast a ballot in the general election Nov. 6. 

Book closing comes at the end of the day, though it may be a few days before anyone knows what the final tally of Republicans, Democrats and independents is. 

Democrats have been surging in voter registration for some time, outregistering Republicans in each of the last eight months. While the Division of Elections hasn’t released September voter registration statistics, the parties know how many people registered in each one, and Democrats last week were trumpeting the fact that they registered more than 18,000 more voters in September than Republicans. 

Hispanics are a big part of the equation: Democrats now have a roughly 30 percentage point advantage in Hispanics in a state where Latino registration used to be more likely to be Republican. Hispanic Democrats not only outnumber Hispanic Republicans but there are also more Hispanic independents than Hispanic Republicans.

As of August, the state had about 4.6 million registered Democrats to 4.1 million registered Republicans. Another 2.4 million are registered with no party affiliation and about 328,000 are in minor parties. 

Democrats and Republicans have been fairly close to even in Florida since the mid-1990s when Republicans made big gains in registration. In the mid-1980s, Democrats held a 3-2 voter registration advantage in Florida, and in the early 1970s the Democratic advantage was more than 2-1. 

Of the state’s 12.1 million voters now, 2.3 million of them are crowded into just two South Florida counties: Broward, which has about 1.1 million, and Miami-Dade, which has about 1.2 million. 

Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats in Broward County by more than 2-1, and even no party voters there outnumber Republicans. It’s a little closer in Miami-Dade County, which had 547,563 registered Democrats, 372,700 Republicans and 324,571 no party voters as of August.

The fewest number of registered voters as of August was in Liberty County in the Panhandle, which had 4,374 total voters, 3,700 of them Democrats, 442 Republicans, and 232 no party and minor party voters. Many of those Democrats, however, regularly vote for Republican candidates in statewide and national races in the socially conservative area.

While voter registration efforts and third party sign-up groups get lots of attention, in part because of allegations from time to time of fraud, most voters by far register at driver license offices when they get or renew a license. In 2011, of the more than 488,000 newly registered voters, 333,000 of them signed up at the DMV. 

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