The Miami Herald partnered with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting for a comprehensive data analysis of absentee votes in the 2012 primary and general elections.

The analysis, conducted by Associate Director Trevor Aaronson, examined trends among absentee voters, comparing the number of absentee votes cast to previous elections, including the 2008 general election. The analysis has so far resulted in two news stories.

Herald reporter Scott Hiaasen used the data analysis in an Oct. 13 story to discuss the potential for absentee ballot fraud:

Absentee voters, who submit their ballots by mail, make up an ever-increasing share of the Florida electorate — the result of relaxed voting laws and aggressive campaign strategies. In the coming election, as many as one in four Florida voters will cast their ballots from home instead of a voting booth.

In Miami-Dade County, the share of absentee voters this fall could be even higher: Already more than 208,000 absentee ballots have been mailed to Miami-Dade voters since Oct. 5.

In the primary election in August, almost 40 percent of the votes cast in Miami-Dade were absentee. In some precincts in Hialeah and Sweetwater, as many as two-thirds of the votes were cast by mail, records show.

“If you do not work absentee ballots you will not have a successful campaign,” said political consultant Sasha Tirador, who represented several local candidates in the Aug. 14 primary.

In a story published Oct. 27 in the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, Herald political writer Marc Caputo and FCIR’s Aaronson examined what absentee ballot data suggests about voter turnout in early voting and at the polls on Election Day:

This year, about 38 percent of the absentee ballots cast by Democrats have come from those who voted early or voted on Election Day in 2008, according to an analysis of voting records by The Miami Herald and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

That means Democrats could post relatively fewer early-voting increases over Republicans compared to 2008, when Democrats cast 500,000 more in-person early votes while the GOP cast about 250,000 more absentee ballots.

In all, about nine million Floridians are expected to vote in this year’s presidential race, with about 40 percent casting ballots before Election Day, Nov. 6.