Politics

Time to Vote, Florida

By: Jim Turner | Posted: November 6, 2012 3:55 AM
Election Day Collage
Today is E-Day: Election Day. The day Florida and the nation have striven toward with sweat and hope and fury for what seems like the past four years. 

After more than 12 months of intense swing-state focus, Florida has seen a record number of candidate visits and political ads.

Hopefully, we’ll know how Floridians voted this year on the presidential contest, a U.S. Senate race, the state constitutional amendments, Supreme Court retention, and congressional, legislative and local contests without having to go deep into E-Day plus one or more.

Polls have trended for Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in the presidential contest among Floridians, but most stay within the margin of error to keep the prognosticators guessing.

“We expect Election Day will be very smooth,” noted Chris Cate, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

With visions of Florida's 2000 recount, not everyone sees clear roads ahead beyond Election Night.

Florida Democrats have already filed suits involving early voting hours and both the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida having legions of lawyers already positioned for a contested election, especially if the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes are again what could make or break the tight presidential contest.

“The Democrats have been carefully looking at the early voting as the state shortened it by law. They kept the hours the same, but the days are shortened. That’s their angle,” said political guru Susan Macmanus, distinguished professor of public administration and political science at the University of South Florida, while on Sirius Radio’s POTUS (Politics of the United States) channel on Monday.

“The Republicans are poised to contest the election system based upon some fraudulent absentee voting and ineligibles on the voting rolls,” she continued.

“Each of them has, party wise, positioned themselves for this battle for a long time.”

Still, while long lines and waits were reported in some counties throughout the early voting period, Cate’s positive outlook comes from the fact that while early voting employed less than 300 locations, there will be more than 6,000 voting locations across the state open on Tuesday.

More importantly, while a record number of provisional ballots are expected to go before county canvassing boards, nearly 40 percent of the expected turnout for the entire contest has already gone to the polls in Florida.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

While individual counties will start posting district results within 30 minutes -- thanks to the electronic voting equipment that many counties have been using since 2002 -- the state Division of Elections won’t have numbers appearing until after 8 p.m., because the Florida Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River is in the Central Time Zone.

If you’re in line before 7 p.m. the polling location will not be closed until you get to fill out and submit a ballot.

For those with absentee ballots, they must be in the hands of the county supervisor of elections’ office before 7 p.m., said Chris Cate, the spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

 

With a judge extending early voting on Sunday in Orange County to make up for time lost Saturday due to a suspicious package, and Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Orange, Leon and Hillsborough counties opening their offices Sunday for absentee-ballot requests as a roundabout way to cast a vote early, roughly 4.5 million ballots have been cast from Florida’s 11.56 million registered voters.

While the breakdown doesn’t fully say how people have voted, 1.92 million have come from Democrats (1,109,262 million via early voting; 806,310 absentee) and 1.748 million from Republicans (862,277 early voting; 885,675 absentee).

The state voter assistance hotline -- 1-866-308-6739 -- will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday.



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.



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