Voting begins in Florida's GOP presidential primary

Only registered Republicans can vote in this primary election

Published On: Jan 20 2012 04:04:58 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 21 2012 05:00:00 PM EST

Florida's turn in the GOP presidential primary spotlight officially begins Saturday, when early voting begins.

Ironically, it's the same day that South Carolina Republicans cast ballots in their primary.

Registered Republicans will be able to cast ballots between Saturday and the following Saturday at locations across Florida. Or they can wait and vote Jan. 31 at their designated precinct.

Absentee voting got under way late last month and will continue through Election Day.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said that while the number of days available for early voting was limited to eight under Florida's new voting law, hours for those days were extended so there will be nearly as much opportunity for early voting as in the past.

"The difference is: no Sunday," Holland said. "That has some importance because people liked to go from church on the last day to the polls."

There are 10 locations for early voting in Duval County, but there will be no voting at the election office's Gateway office in the primary because its location is in a predominately Democratic area.

"They're distributed throughout the county, so pretty close to wherever you live," Holland said.

Every county in Florida offers early voting at one or more locations.

Locations, days and times of all early voting locations in Channel 4's viewing area

While there will be nine names on the Republican primary ballot based on who was running when the ballots were printed late last year, only four continue to actively run for president: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

"What that means is, we'll be tabulating those votes, giving results for all nine candidates," Holland said. "But the reality is, if you've already cast your vote, you can't ask for another ballot and vote for someone else. Once you cast that ballot, that's your only ballot."

All registered voters -- not just Republicans -- can vote during the primary period in Neptune Beach and Flagler Beach. That's so because there's a referendum on the ballot in Neptune Beach; those in Flagler Beach are also voting for mayor and city commissioner.

Five Florida counties -- Hillsborough, Hardy, Hendry, Monroe and Collier -- were allowed to begin voting earlier because the state's new voting law is not being applied there.