Early Voting Starts in Florida

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Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee, FL 10/29/2012

By the time early voting closes for the day at 7:00 p.m. tonight, more than one in six registered Florida voters will have cast a ballot early or by mail. Critics of a shortened early voting period worry the change will result in longer lines Election Day. The state believes longer hours on early voting days will pay off.

Several hundred FAMU students walked the mile from campus to early vote on Monday.

Over the weekend across Florida, the early voting wait lasted as long as two hours. Monday it was significantly shorter.

The students came to send the message about avoiding long lines on Election Day.

By the time the polls close Monday night, more than two million Floridians would’ve cast either an early or absentee vote.

In the Capital City, Saturday set an early voting day record, but the supervisor here worries what will happen if the turn out falls off this week. “My advice is to vote now and to make sure that you can get it in”, says Ion Sancho, Leon County Elections Supervisor

This year early voting was cut from 14 to 8 days, but the hours expanded from 8 to 12 hours a day.

Congressman John Lewis, who marched with Martin Luther King to earn the right to vote, believes the effort to shorten early voting will result in even more interest. “It is so tight. Tactics and techniques and devices will not keep people from participating”, says Rep. Lewis.

The state says longer, but fewer early voting days has so far proven to be good. “We are expecting the high turn out to continue. And we really think that the early voting hours are going to result in more votes being cast”, says Chris Cate, Secretary of State Spokesman.

More than a half million people voted early over the weekend.

Tallahassee, FL - As President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney battle it out for votes, some voters have already made up their minds.

A line of voters wrapped around the Leon County Courthouse Saturday as Florida kicked off its first day of early voting.

"I understand the importance of pre-election polls and the importance of this election in general so I wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way," says Jason Reed who voted early in Leon County Saturday.

"I waited for years for this opportunity and I would crawl on broken glass to vote today. I think our country is at a crossroads," says Lowell Jackson, a Leon County voter.

Florida is one of 32 states along with the District of Columbia that allows early voting. In Leon County, about 50 percent of all registered voters are expected to vote early.

"We have over 11.5 million voters registered in Florida. We need this many extra voting days and election day to accommodate them all," says Ion Sancho, Leon County Supervisor of Elections.

About 40 percent of all the ballots cast across the country this election will be done as part of early voting.

In 2011, the Florida Legislature voted to change the number of early voting days from 12 to 8.

In Florida, early voting starts Saturday. It ends November 3.

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