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Mail ballot returns reach 500,000, with Miami-Dade outpacing all counties

Vote-by-mail returns in Florida’s primary reached the 500,000 mark on Friday, with voters in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough returning the most ballots.

Republicans continue to outpace Democrats in ballot returns, with about 234,000 for the GOP and 195,000 for Democrats. Florida’s closed primary system restricts most races to only those voters registered with one of the two major parties.

The county-by-county mail ballot return numbers can be found here, and the numbers are also here.

The number of returned mail ballots is already more than half of the total mail ballot returns of about 917,000 in the last midterm primary in 2014, and the election is still two-and-a-half weeks away.

That could be a sign of a larger turnout, but it could be evidence of more voters choosing to vote by mail than voting early or on election day.

Pinellas is a close third behind No. 2 Hillsborough in mail ballot returns, making Tampa Bay the most active region for balloting with the Aug. 28 primary 18 days away.

Statewide, more than 1.9 million mail ballots remain in circulation and not yet returned. Of that total, there are about 837,000 Democratic ballots and 733,000 Republican ballots.

The three counties with the most unreturned mail ballots are Miami-Dade, with about 250,000; Pinellas (208,000) and Broward (163,000).