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Early Voting Underway For FL Primary

Photo via Flickr// bored-now

Republican and Democratic-registered voters in Escambia County can begin casting early votes for the Florida Presidential Primary on Saturday.

Hours are eight a.m. until five p.m., tomorrow through Saturday, March 12. Elections Supervisor David Stafford says all signs are pointing to a high level of interest. Absentee ballots already have surpassed those from the 2008 presidential primary. 

“Which is the best comparison, because four years ago there was not a Democratic contest,” said Stafford. “So, if you look back to 2008 – the last time we had an open seat – in the state of Florida we had about 12,500 that were returned. We’ve already surpassed that and we still have more than a week to go until Election Day.”

Registration numbers are also up, and are expected to continue rising right up to the November 8th general election. Another flurry of activity has been about 1,500 party switchers before the February 16 deadline to register for the primary. Many of them came from No Party Affiliation.

“This is a closed primary, and there’s nothing else on the ballot,” Stafford said. “Which means there’s 21% of the voters in Escambia County that fall into either the No Party Affiliation category, or are registered in a third or minor political party, will not be able to participate because the only thing on the ballot is the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.”

Seven early voting sites are set up this time around:

  • Molino Community Center,  6450 Highway 95A North
  • Escambia County Extension Service, 3740 Stefani Road
  • Genealogy Branch Library, 5740 N. 9th Avenue
  • Main Library, 239 N. Spring Street
  • 5 Flags Speedway, 7451 Pine Forest Road
  • Supervisor of Elections Main Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor,
  • Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway

Thirty-three states require some form of voter identification. Stafford says in Florida, that means a photo and signature. If somebody doesn’t have one of the nine acceptable IDs, they can still cast a provisional ballot.
And Elections Supervisor David Stafford has a pep talk of sorts to Republicans and Democrats who are registered for the primary – get out and vote in what he calls an “extraordinarily important election.”

“Florida has been known to have close elections in the past,” said Stafford. “Elections that have been decided by as few as one vote; county commission races that have been decided by as few as three votes.  And we all remember back to the 2000 presidential election, when the presidency of the United States rested on 537 votes in the state of Florida.”

Early voting also kicks off Saturday in Okaloosa County. Santa Rosa County voters began going to the polls last Monday. More information on polling places – and how to obtain an absentee ballot – can be found at www.Escambiavotes.com, or your county’s Supervisor of Elections website.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.