Half of Floridians voted early

6.4 million ballots cast in Sunshine State before Election Day


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Early voting sites in Jacksonville were crowded Sunday as the last day of in-person early voting was the busiest of the last two weeks. When the polls closed at 7 p.m., 297.616 people -- 50.6 percent of registered voters -- had cast ballots.

Early voting rates in Baker, Clay, Columbia, Flagler, Nassau and St. Johns counties also exceeded 50 percent. 

Florida's Division of Elections website shows 6,419,154 people had voted, either by mail-in ballot or at an early voting site as of 7 a.m. Sunday., or 49.9 percent of registered voters. In 2012's general election, nearly 4.8 million Floridians either voted by mail or cast a ballot during early voting.

Democrats had a slight edge of about 88,000 votes over Republicans with just one day of early voting left. More than 1.2 million voters registered with no party affiliation have also voted.

"If we win Florida it's a wrap," Obama told an audience Sunday outside the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. "If we win Florida, it's over, so we've got to work our hearts out this week, these next two days, as if our future depends on it, because our future depends on it."

Sunday's Souls to the Polls event in Jacksonville encouraged people to vote early, and made it a party with live music, free food and games with other members of the community. It brought enough food for about 2,000 people.

"This is important to us, it's important that everyone get out and vote," Lee Harris, with African-American Ministers Leadership, said. "This election is one of the most important ones in my lifetime."

From the top of the ballot all the way to the bottom, Harris said every race matters, and doing research is important.

Mone Holder, the regional director for New Florida Majority, said voting early is a huge advantage for busy and hardworking people.

"Often we think we will make it there Election Day but life happens," Holder said. "This gives you a chance to go to a location to early vote regardless of where you live and cast your ballot with ease."

The Democratic strongholds of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties also had polls open Sunday, as did Hillsborough, Orange and Pinellas and Orange counties, along the Interstate 4 corridor.

Republicans continued to do their final push for voting as well. GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence visited Panama City Beach, while Republican nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Sarasota on Monday as part of a four-state sweep on the eve of the election.

Even though Republicans are now trailing Democrats, David Chiokadze, a spokesman for Trump's Florida's campaign, said in an email to reporters that Republicans trailed Democrats by a much wider margin heading into Election Day back in 2012. Chiokadze also pointed out that there was a higher percentage of Republicans voting in this election than four years ago.

Polls open 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. Anyone in line by 7 p.m. will be permitted to vote.


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