Early voting turnout reaches 30%

Early voting at Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office
Early voting at Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Tuesday’s general election is well underway as more Alachua County voters went to the polls during early voting than voted in total in the statewide primary and local elections in August.

As of Monday morning, almost 55,000 people had submitted their vote-by-mail ballots or cast early in-person votes at one of seven locations for Tuesday’s election, about 1,500 more than turned out total in August. Tuesday’s general election ballot includes gubernatorial, U.S. House and Senate races, Florida House and Senate contests, and three seats on the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). A countywide infrastructure tax and an amendment that would change the BOCC to single-member districts are also up for a vote. Additionally, voters will decide run-offs from the August elections, including the Gainesville mayoral race, District 2 and District 3 City Commission seats, and a Florida 8th Judicial Circuit Court seat.

More than 30% of eligible Alachua County have voters cast their ballots early. In recent elections, the total percentage of voters turning out to the polls in non-presidential elections has hovered between 50% and 65%, and early voting has been a significant portion of that turnout in recent years.

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Early voting accounted for approximately 60% or more of the votes cast in the 2018 and 2020 general elections and the August primary.

Republicans and Democrats voted early in similar percentages this November, though the number of registered Democrats outweighs Republicans by almost 2 to 1 in Alachua County. Approximately 34% of the 86,556 registered Democrats had voted as of Monday while 32.5% of the 48,782 registered Republicans cast ballots.

Non-party affiliated voters, which make up about 25% of the county’s registered voters, took advantage of early voting in significantly smaller numbers, accounting for only 8,178 of Alachua’s 54,504 early votes cast as of Monday morning.

Early voting patterns shifted during the COVID pandemic, but that may be changing back as health restrictions have eased. In 2018, more people used early in-person voting than vote-by-mail, but in the last two years more early voters opted for mail-in-ballots.

This election approximately 1,100 more people had voted in-person through the end of the early voting period on Sunday, though official vote-by-mail collection will continue through Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Alachua County residents still needing to return completed vote-by-mail ballots can submit them at a secure intake station at the Alachua County Supervisor of Election’s Office, 515 N. Main St., Gainesville. The intake station is open until 6 p.m. Monday.

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