TAMPA, Fla. — A close Republican presidential race and a proposal to lower property taxes brought out Florida voters in large numbers Tuesday.
Turnout was estimated at 30 percent, with about 3 million voters casting ballots _ 1.4 million Democrats and 1.6 million Republicans. That was well up from the approximately 20 percent who cast ballots in the 2000 and 2004 presidential primaries, which was held after the nominees were decided, and the 2006 gubernatorial primary.
Average voter turnout for presidential primaries in Florida has averaged 38 percent since 1972, when the all-time record of 58 percent was set.
Florida voters were drawn by an amendment that would cut property taxes by raising the homestead exemption. Critics say the proposal, designed to ease the state's housing crisis, didn't cut taxes enough and could mean cutbacks in local government services.
Voters passed the measure by a 2-to1 margin.
The turnout and lack of any major problems pleased Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning.
"For every election that we run well, we get further away from 2000," he said, referring to the recount debacle that embarrassed the state. "Since 2000, elections have a very, very bright light shined upon them."
The biggest problem, Browning said, was voters who had not declared a party affiliation showing up expecting to vote for a presidential candidate and being told they could not. Unlike some other states, Florida has a "closed" primary, which requires registration with a party affiliation to participate.
More than a million voters _ about one in 10 of those registered in the state _ cast ballots before Tuesday.