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Good news for Modern Liberals!  Braving the elements of hot sun intermingled with drenching rain squalls and gusting winds, and the dispiriting waits in line as long as 5 hours, Democrats whose spines have stiffened are crushing the turnout rates of the competition at early voting sites

. . .early voting in Broward and Miami-Dade counties is leaning decidedly to the left, with Democrats lining up at the polls more than three times as often as Republicans. . .Miami Herald

More good news -- that's not just true of Dade and Broward; this trend is persistent across Florida.

During the first four days of early voting, roughly 53 percent of Floridians taking to the polls were registered Democrats. . .About 31 percent were registered Republicans.

 In SoFla, the totals are even more one-sided in favor of Democrats.

In Broward, 70 percent of early voters were Democrats, 14 percent Republicans and 16 percent Independents, the numbers show. In Miami-Dade, the breakdown was 57 percent Democrat, 25 percent GOP and the rest Independent.

 Dade and Broward voters represent 20% of the state's total voting public.

The statistics have been generated by the Florida Democratic Party, not the Secretary of State, who (because of being a Republican?) remains tight-lipped.  But the Republicans aren't disputing the Democrat's figures, so they're probably accurate.  Even Florida Republican spokeswoman, Erin VanSickle, declined to comment.

Even if they're only close estimates, Democrats can continue to feel the joy after a quick check of the recent history of early voting behavior.

Republicans had a 15-point advantage in total absentee and early votes cast after the first four days of early voting in the 2006 midterm election. But by Election Day those leads withered, with the GOP suffering heavy losses nationally, and two South Florida House Republicans losing their seats.

 When it comes to boding, things bode well for Democrats.

In Dade County, a total of 60,185 voters cast ballots Monday to Thursday. During that same time, 51,492 people voted early in Broward.

The danger awaiting voters who don't go to the polls early is in the math.  Early voting restrictions imposed by the State's Republican legislature in 2005 curtailed hours (from 12 to 8 hours M-F), restricted access (libraries, city halls, and party HQs only).  These factors, driving down early voting opportunity, combined with an extraordinarily long ballot (in SoFla it's 4 pp larger than legal size) require about 15-20 minutes per person from the time the voter presents him/herself at check-in to completing the scan of the paper ballot.  

Republicans now have 4,064,301 registered voters and Democrats have 4,722,076, according to the Florida Division of Elections, giving Democrats an edge of roughly 658,000 registered voters. . .The total, including people not registered with any party, is now 11,247,634.  Tampa Bay Online

Florida voter turnout averages 64% over the last 50+ years with an historic high of 83% in '92 when the state elected Bill Clinton George HW Bush.  Florida Secretary of state, Kurt Browning, estimates voter turnout will be as high as 85 percent, a record, in this election.

That means 9,560,489 voters will participate in the 2008 general election.  

By the end of voting Saturday, 95,747 voters in total had cast ballots in Miami-Dade and 92,104 absentee ballots were sent in since the start of early voting.  During that same time, about 79,529 people voted early in Broward.  Miami Herald

It's possible to make rough estimates of what the future holds.

As of 5:00AM Sunday, 785,615 Floridians have cast early votes by all methods.  That's 130,936 per day.  With 8 days to go we can project 1,833,102 will have completed their civic duty come Tuesday, Nov. 4th.

That leaves 7,727,387 to go.  In one day.

No matter where in the state a person votes it will take 10-15 minutes per person on average to complete the task.  Let's be optimistic and fudge for absentee ballots that take no time and assume it takes 7 minutes.

That means 1,103,912 minutes of voting time are needed on election day.  Or 18,398.5 hours.  Florida has 116 precincts, which means each precinct needs just under 157 hours of voting time on Election Day.  How many voting machines, how many poll workers, how many ballot printing machines, and how many scanners that translates into in order for voters to all be accommodated in one twelve-hour election day I don't know.  But my guess is, if the lines and waits are long during early voting, they're going to be longer and longer Nov. 4th.

I'm betting that Democrats will be happy to do whatever it takes to vote that day.

Will there be post-election turmoil as in 2000 and 2004?  Indications from this year's primary and the vote in 2006 are probably not like we saw in earlier cycles due to the new voting system that is pretty well shaken down.  Problems will probably arise from shortages of equipment, equipment failure, and un-matching voter ID data.  However, I remain optimistic that Florida will enjoy a relatively trouble and scandal free election.  I also predict a win for Obama.

Originally posted to Limelite on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 11:40 AM PDT.

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