College students demonstrated it again in last week’s primary election: they don’t vote, at least not in primary elections.

As first reported by Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab over the weekend, University of Central Florida’s on-campus students gave a dismal turnout, 4.3 percent, the worst in Orange County.

Kassab noted even worse turnouts were seen among students at the University of Florida and Florida State University. Her conclusion was clear: it’s a statewide phenomenon.

It’s not just that the UCF on-campus Precinct 538 was the worst in Orange County. Nearby precincts 506, 537, and 435 also were among the worst in Orange County, salted among a few other low-turnout areas scattered around Orange County including the Deseret Ranches area in far southeast Orange, pockets in Orlando’s west side, and the tourist areas of Lake Bryan and Millenia, each with fewer than 10 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

By contrast, the precincts in and around Winter Park and Maitland, as well as the area of south Downtown Orlando, College Park, and the city of Belle Isles, all saw voter turnouts in excess of 30 percent. All of those areas are predominantly high-income, professional and white.

In Orlando, the UCF area factors big into the plans for Democrats set in tight races and hoping to flip seats now held by Republicans. Those Democrats are counting on appealing to the young voters there, who offer a large number of the registered Democrats in their districts.

Democrat Stephanie Murphy needs a big push there if she is to seriously challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Former state Rep. Linda Stewart needs the Democratic-rich student votes in her bid to win Florida Senate District 13, now held by Republicans, by defeating Dean Asher. Carlos Guillermo Smith needs less of a turnout, since he has no Republican opponent in House District 49. He does face independent candidate Shea Silverman, a UCF data systems engineer.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@flordiapolitics.com or scottmichaelpowers@yahoo.com.

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