Monday is the deadline for Monroe County voters who want to change their party affiliations before voting in the Aug. 14 Democratic and Republican primaries.
Voters are free to change their affiliation, and election officials and local politicos say there is evidence of the practice in preparation for voting day.
"It hasn't been overwhelming," said Assistant Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin. "... They are switching for the clerk's race, the state attorney's race and maybe some for the sheriff's race."
Since the June 11 qualifying date, Griffin said, 108 voters have switched to the Democratic Party, 84 to the GOP and 48 to either no party affiliation or one of the smaller parties. She was not able to determine Thursday from which parties those voters had switched.
In Monroe County's closed primary system, Democrats can only vote for Democrats, and Republicans for Republicans.
As of Thursday, Monroe County's 48,498 active voters included 16,380 Democrats, 18,460 Republicans, 11,387 voters with no party affiliation and 2,271 belonging to smaller parties.
All registered voters will be able cast ballots in the Nov. 8 general election.
Voters do not have to state a reason for a party switch, but Timothy Root, a Democratic Party committee member who is running for the Mosquito Control Board District 3 seat, said he has a clue as to why switches are occurring.
"What's been happening in Key West is that a few years ago, hardly anyone was running for local office," Root said. "People in the community have become proactive and everyone now has lots of people they like."
Root said the direction national parties have taken does not necessarily reflect the views of their members at the local level.
"The way the Democratic and Republican parties are working on a national level is dysfunctional," Root said. "On a local level, people who have wanted their voices to be heard, independent of parties, have switched because the choice is candidate-driven. I think it's a good push. If this would take off throughout the country, it would be about 'Let's start electing the right candidate' instead of 'Let's be affiliated with the Democrats or Republicans.'"
School Board member John Dick, who is a Republican Party executive board member, said party shifts can be good for the respective organizations, and he doesn't see a downside.
"It's good for both parties," he said. "What has happened is they see the importance of the primaries. And while I can understand people wanting to be independent, that disenfranchises them. And we all know some of these elections will be determined by the primary. So one thing about being independent is you don't have a choice in some of these things and that's where it is not good. That shows the importance of being in one of the two major parties. I don't agree with everything in the Republican Party, and I know Democrats don't always agree with everything in the Democratic Party."