ORLANDO, Fla. — Voter turnout in Florida jumped to more than 52% in last year’s midterm elections from almost 45% in the 2014 midterm races, buoyed by increased ballot-casting by young voters and Hispanics, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.
But even though the swing state had high-profile races for a U.S. Senate seat and for control of the governor’s office — as well as a prominent youth voter-registration drive — turnout actually was actually slightly lower than the national average.
Nationwide, more than 53% of voting-age citizens cast ballots, the highest rate in four decades, according to the bureau’s Current Population Survey’s Voting and Registration Supplement. The lowest turnout was in 2014.
Turnout by voting-age citizens between ages 18 and 24 in Florida went from 17.6% in 2014 to almost 30% in the 2018 midterms, the biggest jump of any age group, although all age groups saw increases, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
After a gunman killed 17 people at their high school in February 2018, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others led a statewide voter-registration drive among Florida’s youngest voters. Despite those efforts, Florida’s youth turnout lagged behind the national youth turnout average of 32.4%.
Hispanic turnout in Florida jumped from 36% in 2014 to more than 44% in 2018, going from 892,000 voters to almost 1.4 million voters in pure numbers in four years. Florida had an influx of Puerto Rican residents after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017, but the Census figures don’t break down how many of them voted in the 2018 midterm races.
In Florida, women voted in larger numbers than men, and seniors voted in a higher concentration than any other age group in the midterm elections last year.
The bureau’s figures showed that 54% of the female-citizen voting-age population cast ballots in 2018, compared to 51% of men. Both sexes had significant increases over 2014 when only 46% of eligible women and more than 43% of eligible men voted.
Almost two-thirds of eligible senior citizens in Florida voted in 2018, compared to 60% in 2014.
Non-Hispanic whites in Florida had the highest participation rate at 57% in 2018, followed by blacks with 47%. Asians had a rate of around 40%, a decrease from 43% in 2014.
In 2014, the participation rate for non-Hispanic whites was 47.5%, and it was 44% for blacks.
In November, Democrats flipped two U.S. congressional seats in South Florida, but Republican Rick Scott defeated Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson for a U.S. Senate seat.
Mike Schneider, The Associated Press