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Voter Turnout High In Alachua County, Hits Record Statewide

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With the conclusion of the early voting on Saturday, Florida has seen record-breaking turnout while Alachua County saw its highest turnout since 2008.

More than 6 million people have voted statewide, with 2.2 million vote-by-mail received thus far and nearly 3.8 million early votes cast, according to the Florida Division of Elections. In Alachua County, 77,000-plus people have voted, with 51,100 of those being early voters.

This year’s early-voting turnout surpassed the 2012 election and was almost as high as the record-setting turnout for the 2008 election, said Pam Carpenter, the county’s supervisor of elections.

“We’ve been really excited about the number of people who have already come out and voted,” she said. “We just missed our all-time record.”

The 77,000 ballots counted as of Monday represent about 45 percent of the county’s electorate, Carpenter said, adding that more absentee ballots could be counted because they have until 7 p.m. Tuesday to arrive.

As of Monday, 28,979 Democrats and 13,212 Republicans voted early in Alachua County, according to Florida Division of Elections. Meanwhile, more than 9,000 early voters in the county identified either as another party or no party affiliation.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this election,” Carpenter said. “People want to turn out, have their voice be heard and get their ballot cast.”

For those who haven’t yet voted, there’s still Election Day on Tuesday, when all polling locations across the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jennifer Barkley, clerk of the First Baptist Church precinct on Northwest 39th Avenue in Gainesville, said she foresees Tuesday bringing a big turnout.

“We’re expecting very long lines,” she said. “We are going to be very well-prepared so that the election process goes very smoothly.”

During the lull period on Monday, when all polls are closed between early voting and Election Day, several voters showed up at the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office to cast ballots.

One of them was Wekiva Thomas, who said she was unaware that early voting had already concluded at the office.

So now the 26-year-old Gainesville resident will have to go to her regular precinct — the Ignite Life Center — on Tuesday to submit her first-ever vote.

“There’s certain things I definitely need to have my say in,” Thomas said, “and I just can’t sit back and watch.”

About Maggie Lorenz

Maggie is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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