I voted, already

Election day for the primary is two weeks away, but some voters have their minds made up.

Published August 22, 2006

Let the voting begin.

All across the state on Monday, a limited number of polling locations opened to accommodate voters who could not wait to cast a ballot in the Sept. 5 primary.

"I don't miss an election, but there are always things that can happen on election day: Your kids could get sick, you could get stuck at work, a hurricane could come through," said Jean Clements, who voted in Tampa. "It's the only way I can be sure my vote can be counted."

The turnout was steady, reported the state elections office. The Pinellas elections office recorded more than 550 ballots cast at 11 polling locations.

"We hope we have a good turnout, which might give an indication of future turnout," said Secretary of State Sue Cobb. "Florida doesn't have a stellar primary election turnout record. I wish we did."

The primary elections include the statewide races to select the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor. Many local races, including county commission and legislative seats, are also on the ballot.

In the Tampa Bay area, voters can usually cast early ballots Monday through Saturday, until Sept. 2. Some voting locations open as early as 8 a.m. and close as late as 6 p.m. Voters should consult their county supervisor of election offices for specific details.

Florida expanded early voting after the controversial presidential election in 2000. The hope is to keep lines at polling locations shorter on election day.

Voters who don't want to show up at a polling location can obtain an absentee ballot from their local supervisor of elections office. The ballot must be returned to the elections office, not a polling location, by 7 p.m. on election day.

Early voters in the primary election need to be registered already. The deadline for registering for the Nov. 7 general election is Oct. 10.

Graham Brink can be reached at brink@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8406.