Voter turnout as of the first day of early voting in Tampa was already at 6 percent, most of that from vote by mail ballots returned.
If voting trends so far this election continue, the city is on track to exceed voter turnout from when Mayor Bob Buckhorn first made the runoff against Rose Ferlita.
Vote by mail turnout this election has already exceeded 2011 with 6 percent turnout so far and counting as more ballots likely trickle in over the coming days.
That could make up for what might be lower early voting turnout, which has not yet reached 1 percent. As of Tuesday morning before polls opened for day two, 670 voters had cast a ballot at one of Tampa’s seven early voting locations. If a similar number of people vote each of the seven days during early voting, that turnout will be less than 2011.
However, the bulk of early voting is likely to occur this weekend as more people have time to make their way to the polls. Voting hours are cumbersome to workers because polls open at 10am after most people have gone to work and close at 6pm, which is too early for some to make it before doors close.
Tampa’s voting population has also grown. More voters have been added to the rolls since 2011 than voted in the 2011 municipal election.
In 2011 there were 190,514 eligible voters. This year there are 237,752.
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer expects turnout to be higher based on voting trends in recent elections. The county saw a spike in voter turnout in 2018 with nearly 62 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot. In the 2014 midterm elections, voter turnout was just 49 percent.
Pair the boost in voter engagement with the high profile race at the top of this year’s municipal ballot and voters have a recipe for high turnout.
David Straz alone has more than $2 million flooding airwaves with advertising and and paying for outside canvassing groups to knock on doors to get out the vote.
Jane Castor’s campaign has raised nearly $400,000 to get her message out while her affiliated political committee has raised another $382,000.
Added together, the seven campaigns and affiliated political committees have amassed more than $4.2 million in contributions. To put that in perspective, not counting political committees, candidates running for mayor in 2011 collectively raised $1.7 million.