BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Even in the rain, Florida voters lined up early Monday morning for the first day of in-person early voting.
The lines stretched all the way around buildings at Broward County locations.
“I just wanted to make sure that my voice counts. My vote counts. We are looking at the economy, the pandemic. It’s just a lot of stuff,” South Florida voter Teresa Garrett said.
It was a similar scene in Tampa, where lines of voters wrapped around a parking lot.
Some voters showed up before 5 a.m. to wait for the polls to open at 7 a.m.
By later in the day, the lines had dwindled and there were virtually no wait times.
“People want to vote early. They want to vote now. They don’t want to wait until the election. There is a ton of pent up emotion, energy, excitement, and fear that is driving people to the polls,” Nova Southeastern University political science professor Dr. Charles Zelden said.
Dr. Zelden says Floridians tend to know their vote matters.
“It is always close in Florida. A blowout in Florida is a 1% gap,” Dr. Zelden said.
More than 2.5 million Floridians have already mailed in their ballots, according to the Florida Department of State.
Of the submitted ballots, over 1.2 million are registered Democrats. About 758,000 are registered Republicans. And 494,000 identify as independents.
Some Florida counties have drop box locations for mail-in ballots.
“Going into this election year, knowing we are facing a pandemic, what can we do to make voting as easy as possible,” Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus said.
Most polling places required masks and enforced social distancing.