Election Sups: Early Voting Moves Ahead Smoothly
Early voting proceeded uneventfully Monday election supervisors said, portending, they hope, an easy run up to this month’s primary and the general election in November.
With large numbers of absentee ballots already returned, inclement weather and the relatively early primary date, the lines have been short, and in some cases non-existent, at sites around the state, supervisors surveyed Monday said.
Early voting in most of the state began Saturday.
Despite the millions already spent on federal, state and local elections, many voters are still preoccupied with other issues as they pack up beach chairs and send their kids back to school.
“Early voting is consistent but slower than we would have liked,” said Susan Bucher, Palm Beach County elections supervisor. “…This is the earliest primary election that I believe we have ever had and I am afraid that families are still on vacation and people with homes outside of the state are not back yet.”
Other supervisors said they were seeing moderate activity, with some reporting stronger turn out despite having fewer early voting locations than in 2008.
“It’s been running very smoothly,” said state Division of Elections spokesman Chris Cate. “I haven’t heard of any reports of confusion on election times. Everyone has been able to find out where their early voting locations are and getting in to vote.”
There had been concerns about confusion over early voting because 62 counties began the process Saturday, while five other Florida counties started last week. Florida changed its election law last year, shortening the early voting period. But the change hasn’t been approved in the five counties by federal officials, so they’re operating under the state’s old election law, with more early voting days.
But several supervisors said Monday there didn’t appear to be widespread confusion.
In Martin County, nearly 800 voters cast ballots over the weekend at a single early voting location. In 2008, election officials netted about 660 voters at five locations open around the county. A tight budget forced Elections Supervisor Vicki Davis to pare back during the primary.
“For primaries, it just was cost prohibitive,” Davis said.
If history repeats itself, the pace of early and absentee ballots will quicken for the general election and additional early voting sites will be available. In 2008, 69 percent of Martin County voters cast ballots by mail or voted early.
Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards said she expects a 30-35 percent turnout for the primaries as voters face a packed Republican primary for Congressional District 19.
“There are a lot of local races that are sparking interest,” Edwards said.
In Miami Dade County, 6,467 early votes were cast as of Sunday, the second full day of early voting there. In Palm Beach, 3,147 early ballots had been cast.
Early voting numbers so far appear to be dwarfed by absentee ballots coming in.
In Pasco County, 1,939 early votes had been cast by the end of business Sunday. Pasco election officials have received 11,344 absentee ballots, of which 6,337 were cast by Republican voters and 3,662 came from registered Democrats.
In Palm Beach County, nearly 17,100 ballots have been returned of 47,251 that were mailed.
Miami-Dade officials have received 61,703 absentee ballots returned from among 158,943 that were mailed out over the past three weeks.
By Michael Peltier