Despite the mail vote controversy spurred by President Trump, Democrats submitted more than 1.1 million ballots by mail, with Republicans casting 766,000.
Florida citizens participated in record numbers in Tuesday’s primary election, as nearly 4 million voters across the state cast a ballot. According to data posted Tuesday night by the Florida Division of Elections, this marks the highest voter rate seen in a presidential-year primary since 1992.
Strong Showing by Mail
The COVID-19 caused a substantial increase in mail-in voting. Democrats submitted more than 1.1 million ballots by mail, edging out Republicans, who cast approximately 766,000. In South Florida alone, over 900,000 votes were cast, more than two-thirds via the embattled U.S. postal service.
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“Overall this will go down as the highest turnout primary election in history, with most of that driven by voting by mail,” a spokesman for Broward County Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci said.
These results are encouraging, according to Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, who sees the party’s focus on mail-in voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic “is yielding dividends.”
The move proved a strong boost to turnout among voters 18 to 34 years of age, as well as among those who had never voted before in an August primary. It also gave Democrats a solid 50,000 advantage over Republicans among those who voted by mail.
The encouraging numbers on mail-in voting come at a time when Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had announced massive cuts to the postal service, including reducing post office hours and removing postal boxes. The announced cuts generating an uproar, primarily among Democratic voters concerned about their potential impact on the November presidential election.
President Trump has repeatedly said that a surge in mail-in voting would lead to fraud, a claim for which he has so far produced no evidence.
In fact, according to Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, and Charles Stewart, director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, over the past 20 years more than 250 million ballots have been cast by mail nationwide, with just 143 criminal convictions for election fraud related to mail ballots. Despite this, in July Trump suggested delaying the election over his alleged fears about fraud.
This prompted Democrats to accuse the president of trying to cripple the cash-strapped Postal Service in a bid to suppress mail-in voting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the country’s top elected Democrat, called these attempts a “campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters.”
Sounding the Alarm in Florida
On Tuesday, the postmaster general announced that he was suspending the cost-cutting initiatives until after the election, “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
But this was a case of “too little, too late” for some. Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell told the Miami Herald that “the damage has already been done. What [the President] has done is undermine the trust of Americans in our Postal Service.”