The Florida Chamber of Commerce stands by its assertion that a high number of unlikely voters have already cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary.
The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the political team at the Florida Chamber of Commerce had noticed a trend in the number of people rarely voting in primary elections. The Tampa Bay Times reported that about half the mail ballots were from Floridians who either voted in one or zero of the past four primaries.
The paper reported that as of last Thursday, more than a quarter of the 855,000 mail ballots came from Floridians who hadn’t voted in the last four primaries. According to the paper, 20 percent came from people who voted in one of the last four primaries.
The report had Dan Smith, an elections expert at the University of Florida, scratching his head. In a post on his blog, Smith said the figures seemed odd, “if not implausible.”
Smith wrote that of the 1.1 million vote by mail ballots sent to supervisors of elections as of Saturday, 13,2000 were from voters who registered since Jan. 1. Another 20,500 ballots, he wrote, came from voters who registered in 2015.
“These new voters had no chance of casting ballots in the 2014 August primary election, and thus, there’s no reason why they should be included in the Chamber’s analysis, much less be assumed to be ‘unlikely voters,’ wrote Smith.
Not so fast, says the Chamber of Commerce. In a memo to Chamber President Mark Wilson, Marian Johnson, the senior vice president of political strategy, that “among voters registered prior to July 2008 who returned ballots as of Saturday, 285,362 0 and 1 score voters had returned their ballots out of 784,165 total votes returned.”
“The 0 and 1 score voters account for approximately 36 percent of this group,” she wrote in the memo, posted on the Miami Herald website. “For those working to influence elections, 36 percent is a significant size.”