[UPDATE] 11-1 1:25PM --
MIAMI (AP) --
More than 2 million Floridians will have cast their
ballots before the polls even open Tuesday, a major jump from the
last midterm election.
The state's early voting program began in 2002. Florida Division
of Elections officials said Monday people are taking advantage of
the convenience of skipping the Election Day rush.
By Sunday, more than 1 million Floridians had voted in person,
up 65 percent from 2006. The rest mailed in absentee ballots.
Officials hope that will shorten Election Day lines.
Still, both Republican and Democratic officials are expecting a
higher turnout at the polls than 2006 and are implementing major
get-out-the-vote drives. In a state where 567 votes gave George
Bush the 2000 election, Florida polls will be closely watched.
Updated 10-18 6:28pm
The race for Florida Governor and other congressional, state, and local leaders is in its final laps.
In Leon County, candidates appreciate the power of voters hitting the polls early, and they're doing all they can to keep the voters coming.
"This is my first time." Said, Ulrike Landry, who just became a U.S. citizen in July.
The German native has been married to an American for 29 years. But, says she felt now was the time to vote.
On the first day of early voting in Florida, she cast her vote at the Leon County Courthouse.
Landry said, "It's really a great feeling. It gives you that feeling that you have some power and that you have a say so in what goes on."
Local candidates are having all types of events and giveaways to get voters out during early voting, but they say their efforts began long before now.
Cliff Thaell, Leon Co. Commission At-Large, Group 2 Candidate, said, "We're walking neighborhoods knocking on doors talking to voters. We have our sign program."
Nick Maddox, Leon Co. Commission At-Large, Group 2 Candidate, said, "I've been to different businesses throughout the community, sending out mailers and things of that nature just trying to do whatever I can."
But what voters don't like to see are negative campaign ads, and there have been no shortage of them this season.
Leon County resident Jeff Victorine voted early on Monday. He said, "I've had enough of it. I think some changes need to be made and we need to get moving forward. I'd like to see this economy get going by whatever means it takes."
Nineteen year old Lewis Thurston says whatever it took to get 80 people through the doors within the first two hours of early voting, seeing them inspired him to go in and register.
Thurston said, "I was here sitting on the gun and the bullet and not taking the shot."
Early voting at the Leon County Courthouse is from 8am to 4pm, 10am to 6pm at the Fort Braden Community Center, Woodville Community Library and the Northeast Branch Public Library.
The dates are: Monday, October 18th - Friday, October 22nd and Sunday, October 24th - Saturday, October 30th.
For more information, go to leonvotes.org.
We will be carrying two debates this week on WCTV 2--that's Comcast Digital Channel 14.
We'll have the Senate candidates debate live Tuesday night, Oct. 19 at 7pm.
The gubernatorial candidates will debate Wednesday night, Oct. 20th at 7 pm. We will also carry that live on WCTV2.
MIAMI (AP) -- Early voters can now cast ballots across Florida for the general election.
Early voting started today and runs until Oct. 31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
State officials advise voters to check with their county's supervisor of elections office for more information about polling stations for early voting.