JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Eight days of early voting begins Saturday, and both parties and many organizations are urging people to take advantage of it.
Not only can people go to any early voting site in their county through Saturday, Nov. 3, but many counties keep their sites open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. (County-by-county early voting locations, times)
The ballots are four pages long and about 3,000 words -- the longest in the history of the Duval County elections. Because of the complexity of the ballot, voting could take longer than usual and lines at the polls could be long.
"This is going to be, if not the longest, one of the longest ballots ever in the history of Florida. So why not take advantage of early voting? Take your time, relax," Florida Senate candidate Aaron Bean said.
Organizers say at least 135 Florida churches will take part in "souls to the polls" bus and car caravans Sunday aimed at getting mostly Latino and African-American congregations to cast ballots early.
Labor unions and church leaders are also planning rallies Saturday that thousands of people are expected to attend.
"Basically, I am encouraging everyone, regardless of party, to get out and vote and make sure your vote counts," said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla.
This year's early voting period is shorter than in previous elections. Voting rights groups concerned about problems with access unsuccessfully filed court challenges to a reduction in the number of days, but most larger counties will keep the early voting sites open 12 hours each day, so the number of hours of early voting will remain the sames as previous years.
"We have 17 sites in Duval County," Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said. "It doesn't matter which one you live by. You may go to the one close to where you work. And they're open every day from Saturday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m."
Officials say more than 1.1 million Floridians have already cast ballots through mail-in absentee voting.
"That's the value of it. You can take the time, you don't have to feel rushed, you can think about what you're doing, you pay attention to what's on the ballot," City Council President Bill Bishop said of early voting. "It's long; it's complicated; there's a lot there. We want people to be educated and informed when they go to the polls."
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