Early Voting Crucial in Florida

MIAMI (AP) _ Florida's presidential primaries could almost be decided by the time most polling places open next week.

That's because early voting started January 14th and absentee ballots started hitting the mail last month. Half a million people or more may have voted before primary day actually gets here January 29th.

Any candidate who reaches those early birds could build a formidable lead.

More than a third of the votes cast in Florida in the 2004 general election were cast early or by mail, taking advantage of a 2000 rule change allowing absentee ballot requests without having to prove that voting in person would be a hardship.

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