A sharp increase in the number of Floridians casting absentee ballots is changing the ways of winning political campaigns.
A record 1.5 million absentee ballots are in circulation for the current election, and campaign operatives are tracking them like bloodhounds.
“Candidates (and staffers) go daily to supervisor of elections offices. They know who has absentee ballots. They know when those ballots are returned,” says Daniel Smith, a professor of political science at the University of Florida.
Absentee ballots, along with early voting, have accelerated and front-loaded the campaign calendar in unprecedented ways. Five weeks before Election Day, more than 25,000 Floridians had already cast ballots.
In the 2008 general election, 54 percent of Florida voters cast their vote before Election Day. The percentage of early deciders could increase this year. Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 18.
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