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Democrats take slight lead in vote-by-mail ballots

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It’s a small lead — 27 ballots — but Democrats are now in front in the number of returned vote-by-mail ballots.

With more than a half-million ballots turned in, the Division of Elections website Monday showed registered Democrats had submitted 210,734 ballots to Republicans’ 210,707.

Other party and no-party voters have returned another 91,648 ballots to their local supervisors of elections.

Monday’s update drew cheers from the Democratic faithful, including Tallahassee PR man Kevin Cate.

“Here’s your enthusiasm gap,” he tweeted, referring to the new numbers.

“Wow,” added former campaign consultant Geoff Puryear. “To anyone who has done field in Florida, this is a huge development.”

Lawmakers recently changed the name of such ballots to “vote-by-mail” ballots from the traditional “absentee” ballots.

In a related development, a federal judge late Sunday ordered the state of Florida to give thousands of voters a chance to make sure their vote-by-mail ballots are counted.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled county election offices should notify voters if their signature on a vote-by-mail ballot and their voter registration forms don’t match. Voters would then be given a chance to fix the problem by 5 p.m. the day before the election.

Walker also had extended the state’s voter registration deadline one week to 5 p.m. Tuesday, saying Floridians needed extra time in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which especially disrupted the state’s Atlantic coast communities.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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