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More than 38 percent of Citrus voters cast their ballots early. Today is the final opportunity for all the rest. Polls close at 7 p.m.
By AMY WIMMER SCHWARB and RAGHURAM VADAREVU
Published November 2, 2004
INVERNESS - James and Janice Skiffington got one of the most coveted parking spots in downtown Inverness on Monday: directly across the street from the Supervisor of Elections Office, where more than a dozen people were casting ballots just after lunchtime.
They voted early because it was convenient, and because they'd made up their minds.
"I voted just because of the way the world is turning," said James Skiffington, 69, who didn't want to wait until today's official Election Day to vote for his choice for president, Sen. John Kerry.
Today is Election Day - or, as it is increasingly becoming known in Florida, the last day to vote. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters should bring a photo ID. Check your voter registration card to make sure you go to the correct polling place. Call 341-6740 with questions.
At 4:45 p.m. Monday, with the last of the early voters still lined up at the Inverness elections office, Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill was reluctant to predict an overall voter turnout.
"I was going to say 75 percent," Gill said of her voter turnout prediction. "But if we keep going like this ..." Gill settled on 80 percent.
She noted several variables. She said the elections office has seen large numbers of elderly voters turn out for early voting, maybe just for convenience. And she said so many reliable voters have already cast ballots that the polls might not have lines today.
"Look at how many people we've taken out of the mix," she said.
Early voting lasted from Oct. 18 until Monday. A total of 20,117 voters participated. Other voters - 14,812 as of the close of business Monday - returned absentee ballots, and those ballots will continue to arrive Tuesday. Citrus has 90,780 voters registered for this election, and so far, 38.5 percent of them have already cast ballots.
In the last presidential election, 70.6 percent of Citrus voters turned out for what became a historic election. George W. Bush won Citrus County in 2000 and, thanks to the updated technology voters used in Citrus that year, the recount that shook up Florida did little to change the numbers.
Bush received 29,766 votes, or 51.99 percent of Citrus County's vote; Al Gore received 25,525, or 44.58 percent.
Besides the race for president, voters in Citrus today will choose two county commissioners, a sheriff, a property appraiser, two School Board members and a superintendent of schools. They also will have a say in races for state Senate, the state House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and several judicial races. Eight amendments to the Florida Constitution are also on the ballot.
Voters in Crystal River will select three City Council members.
In the race for Florida's 5th Congressional District, H. David Werder, the write-in candidate for Florida's 5th Congressional District race, said he has filed a complaint against seven of the eight supervisors of elections that comprise the district.
In his complaint to the Florida Election Commission, Werder alleged that the elections offices in Pasco, Hernando, Levy, Marion, Sumter, Lake, and Polk counties did not inform voters that he was a write-in candidate.
Werder based his complaint on phone calls that he and supporters made on Oct. 21 to the elections office inquiring about those in the District 5 race. They used a calling card so that elections workers would not know who was calling, he said.
"They did not supply the information when it was requested," he said.
Workers at the Citrus elections office were the only ones to include his name, along with that of U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Crystal River, and Democrat Robert G. Whittel, a Hernando County lawyer.
Patricia Rushing, commission clerk at the Florida Election Commission, said she could not acknowledge whether the agency has received Werder's or any other complaints.
Once the agency receives a complaint, she said, the executive director must determine whether there is probable cause. If the complaint is "legally insufficient," Rushing said, the complaint becomes public after 30 days.
-- Amy Wimmer Schwarb can be reached at 860-7305 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified November 2, 2004, 00:32:22]