JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the lines got longer Sunday at several early voting sites across Jacksonville, some voters decided to wait until Election Day to cast their ballot.
Duval County officials said 19,318 people voted Sunday, bringing the total of votes received in Jacksonville to 223,903 Duval County, nearly 37 percent of eligible voters. Supervisor of Election Mike Hogan last week predicted 56 a percent total voter turnout in the hotly contested midterm election.
More than 4.8 million Floridians had voted by Sunday morning, with many more expected to cast ballots Sunday in those counties where early voting remained open. That's half again more than voted early or by mail prior to Election Day in 2014 -- the last statewide election without a presidential race on the ballot.
St. Johns County's website shows nearly 44 percent of voters had cast ballots by Saturday night when early voting closed. In Nassau County, 41 percent had voted when early voting ended Saturday, and in Clay County, just over 36 percent of voters had cast ballots.
"In past years, I know it has been down, but I think that it is with everything that is going on, people are seeing just how important it is to really vote," Blake Ayala said. "And I think people are starting to see that their vote really does matter, and I think that is great."
Ayala didn't vote early this year. He said he wanted extra time to educate himself on all of the amendments.
"I felt like it was more important to kind of dive into each one of those and really kind of figure out what is going on before I went and actually voted. So I am planning on voting on Tuesday," Ayala said.
For others, skipping out on early voting is all about tradition.
"I think that the fun part is getting out there with the crowds and casting your ballot, and feeling like a true American. So, I don’t like to vote early. I want to get out there in the thick of it," Darin Roark said.
"It’s something about voting day. I just like to go out on the actual day to vote, and have a little sticker on my shirt that says, 'I voted,'" said Ashley Holt.
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Some voters don't seem to mind that they may end up waiting in long lines to cast their ballot on Election Day, but they are trying to be strategic about their timing.
"It is probably going to be very long. Yeah, I’m not looking forward to that line but I know there will be one, so I’m going to try to get in as early as I can," Ayala said.
Voter Ronald Moore said it's vital to cast your ballot.
"It's important to vote because it's the most effective way to make change in your community," Moore said.