News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fewer active voter registrations in north central Florida follows statewide trend

Multiple north central Florida counties are seeing a massive decrease in active voter registration, part of a pattern that’s mirrored across much of the state.

Florida has seen a decrease of 1.1 million active registered voters since January 2023, according to the Florida Division of Elections. The largest counties in north central Florida — Alachua, Columbia, Marion and Suwanee — saw a combined decrease of active voter registration of 61,321.

Wesley Wilcox, supervisor of elections for Marion County, said the decline of active registered voters could be related to the counties’ responsibility to maintain voter lists.

Voters must re-register by responding to mailers from county voting officials if they have not participated in the last two elections.

“We did the list maintenance activity around September and since that time we’ve still grown probably four to five thousand registered voters,” he said.

In reality, Wilcox said, the perceived decline is actually just the counties eliminating from the rolls the voters who didn’t participate in the 2020 or 2022 elections.

List maintenance, which is a protocol taken by the supervisor of elections, is “to protect the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring the maintenance of accurate and current voter registration records in the statewide voter registration system,” according to Florida state law.

Wilcox and other supervisors of elections conduct list maintenance by either using the National Change of Address Program — a program that tracks down people who recently changed their address — or by filtering out the people who didn’t vote in the past four years.

The supervisor of elections then sends out notices to voters to confirm addresses.

In 2023, there was a change in voter registration law in Florida stating voters need to respond within 30 days of receiving an address notice or they will be moved to the inactive list. Voters who are moved to inactive status are still eligible to vote as long as they participate in the next two elections, but if voters fail to participate after being moved to the inactive list they will be removed from the inactive list and will have to re-register.

WUFT made efforts to speak with some of those voters who had become inactive in 2023. Of the 25 reached by phone, a majority had inactive phone numbers, didn’t answer or declined to comment. Those who did answer offered explanations such as being out of town during the past two elections or moving out of state.

Aaron Klein, spokesperson for the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office, said misinformation about mail-in ballots and early voting could be a factor in why active voter registration is down.

He also pointed out that voter participation tends to decrease in gubernatorial elections compared to presidential contests every four years.

Political party implications

Among the two larger political parties in the state, the plummet in active voter registration has hit the Democratic Party harder than the Republican Party. Here’s how the decrease in 2023 broke down among counties and parties:

Alachua: 29,394 total

  • Democrats: 14,380
  • Republicans: 5,472

Marion: 24,333 total

  • Democrats: 10,775
  • Republicans: 4,155

Suwanee: 3,140 total

  • Democrats:1,494
  • Republicans: 721

Columbia: 4,454 total

  • Democrats:1,930
  • Republicans: 1,077

Paul Wolfe, chair of the Alachua County Democratic Party, pointed to the student population in Alachua County that tends to move out of the area after graduation.
Statewide, he said Florida has become more difficult for people to register and vote, specifically noting the challenges around convicted felons and their restitution.

Tim Marden, who chairs the Alachua County Republican Party, said active voter registration may be down because people moving out of state are not concerned about updating their address and people may be turned off by candidate choices.

Marden went on to say that because of the strong Republican voter base in Florida, Republicans may not feel they need to respond to notices about the address change. For other Republicans, he said, supporting former President Donald Trump has become personal and they will back him at the polls regardless, or because of, his legal woes.

Lee Ann Anderson is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing