Voter-registration drives at barbershops and gun shows, celebrity appearances by pro athletes and TV stars, and a high-profile presidential election have put Broward County over the one-million-voter mark -- a total poised to affect races from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ballot in the state's Democratic stronghold.
Broward crossed the seven-figure threshold following last week's voter-registration cutoff for the Nov. 4 election, with county voter rolls hitting 1,005,706 voters as of Wednesday evening. Fueled by an increase in Democratic and Independent voter registrations, the county now joins Miami-Dade County as the only Florida counties with more than one million voters.
Political observers in both parties say that could help Broward Democrats counter the effect of Republican presidential votes typically cast in other parts of the state. And while registration is one thing and turnout another, if party affiliation continues to carry those voters down the ballot, it could make a difference in several hotly contested local elections -- like the race for Broward sheriff or several high-profile legislative races.
Technically, this isn't the first time Broward had passed the one million mark.
But five years ago when the county celebrated, the total had an asterisk attached. That's because former Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant didn't scrub inactive voters from the list as required by state law. As a result, ''that number was probably exaggerated,'' Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said.
The long-overdue purge of 67,000 voters in 2003 left Broward under the threshold it claimed to have passed earlier that year.
This time, most of the county's gains come from the Democrats. The party makes up more than half of Broward's registered voters.
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