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Nearly 1,100 Duval Democrats Change Party Before August Primary

Michael Rosenstein

Monday is the last day Duval voters can change their party affiliation before the Aug. 30 primary election.

Florida is a closed-primary state, which typically means Democrats can only vote within the same party and Republicans can only vote for Republicans. 

But if just one party has candidates  in a race, voting is open to anyone — that is, unless there's a write-in candidate. 

Take the District 4 state attorney race. Three Republicans, including incumbent Angela Corey are running. Because no democrats are running, the race was open for anyone to vote. But a write-in candidate, Kenny Leigh — with ties to Corey — has limited voting to Republicans only. News4Jax reports Leigh is an outspoken supporter and donor to Corey.

That’s why some people, like Katherine Thames, are switching from Democrat to Republican. Thames said she wants to vote for Melissa Nelson.

“I’ve had a lot of friends switch over and that’s why I’ve became more serious about switching over when I found out that the primary was definitely going to be closed,” she said. “But a lot of my friends actually aren’t switching over and I’ve tried convincing them but ... they don’t have a fax machine and they don’t feel like driving downtown.”

Since candidates qualified in late June, nearly 1,100 Duval County Democrats have become Republicans, with just 87 Republicans switching to become Democrats. Four years ago, about 200 Democrats and 80 republicans made the switch during the same time period. 

Other partisan races on the ballot include court clerk, U.S. Senate and public defender, along with state Senate and House seats. The deadline to switch parties is Monday.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Lindsey Kilbride joined WJCT News in 2015 after completing the radio documentary program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.
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