There was a slight uptick in the number of active registered voters in Florida immediately prior to the registration deadline to be eligible for the March 15 primary. From January 31 through February 16, 2016, the voter rolls grew by 62,318 voters. Certainly the number of newly registered voters was higher than 62k, given that the voter rolls are dynamic; Supervisors of Elections regularly remove voters from the rolls, including those who are deceased, move out of state, or are convicted of felonies. Under federal law (NVRA), SOEs should not be removing inactive voters during this period of time, given the immediacy of the March 15 presidential primary.
Is the increase in total registrations distributed evenly across racial and ethnic groups? No.
Hispanics now comprise 14.88% of the electorate, up .04% from the percentage of Hispanics in the January 31, 2016 active voter file. On the other hand, blacks now comprise 13.31% of the active voters, down from 13.34% of the January 31 active electorate. The percentage of the Florida electorate that is whites is also down, from 65.74% to 65.71% of the electorate.
These are pretty steep changes for just a 15 day window of new voter registrations, and likely reflects broader demographic changes in the state (more younger Hispanics eligible to register to vote) and general attrition rates from the voter file of white and black registered voters who have been removed from the statewide voter file.
What about these last-minute changes across the parties? Some interesting patterns emerge.
Registrants (with the possible exception of Jeb Bush) are generally not likely to change their racial or ethnic categorization on a voter registration form. But current registrants might very well might change their party registration ahead of a closed primary contest if they plan on voting. This is especially true of No Party Affiliates (NPAs), who are excluded from voting in party primaries in Florida.
This very well might explain the drop in total NPA registrations in Florida over the two week period prior to the February 16 registration cutoff, from 2.892m to 2.878m active NPA voters. The decline of 13.6k registered voters is not Huuuuge in the grand scheme of things, but it is significant, given the general trend in the Sunshine State of more voters registering as NPAs over the past two decades.
It bears noting that nearly all of the decline in NPA registered voters appears to be due to the decline in white NPAs; the total number of registered Hispanic NPAs, and even black NPAs, increased over the two-week period.
Although there is certainly the possibility of an ecological fallacy at play when interpreting these aggregate numbers as a sign of NPAs engaged in last-minute party-switching, there was an uptick in the number of Republican active registered voters, nearly 50k from January 31 through February 16, to 4.276m. Democrats also increased their rolls, but less by than 30k, to 4.570m for the Presidential Preference Primary book closing.