Where The Votes Are: Pandemic Drives Voters To The Mail

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY SEP 3, 2020

More than 70% of voters who cast ballots in the August primary in Sarasota or Manatee counties did so by sending their vote in the mail or dropping it off in a dropbox. It’s a phenomenon sure to be discussed at a Where The Votes Are discussion being held online by SRQ MEDIA this morning.

That’s a phenomenal migration to the mailboxes that portends dramatically different voter behavior during the presidential election in November as a pandemic rages on.

For those populations especially at risk from the effects of COVID-19, there was an even greater interest in voting by mail. Nearly 79% of voters in the 70s voted by mail, compared to less than 15% who cast ballots at the polls. For voters in their 90s, nearly 93% voted by mail and less than 6% went to the polls.

But there was a definite partisan split to absentee voting as well. While more than 84% of Democrats in the region sent their ballot by post, only around 56% of Republicans did so. Roughly a third of GOP votes cast their ballots on Election Day, while under 11% of Democrats dared venture to their precinct. Independent voters didn’t go the mail route by quite as high a percentage as Dems, but it was close, with nearly 81% choosing to vote by mail and just over 14% waiting until the day of the election.

Older voters continue to dominate at the polls in Sarasota and Manatee. But returns from the Aug. 18 primary show that gap is less pronounced that in the past.

In the two county area, roughly the same number of voters turned out who were under 40 (26,299) as who were over 80 (26,649). At the same time, older voters both outnumber and outperform younger ones in both counties. Voters in the 70s had a turnout of greater than 47% in the August election within the two-county area, anumber down nearly 2% from the 2018 primary but still nearly double the under 25% turnout for voters in their 50s. Voters in their 20s had a turnout in the region of less than 9%

And of course, there’s a greater number of older voters in the retiree-rich area. The region is home to nearly 45,000 voters in their 70s, but only around 29,000 voters in their 20s.

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