Florida Keys News
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Steady crowds show up to cast early votes
Elections officials pleased with turnout

Monroe County is not seeing the long lines for early voting as in Miami-Dade County, but there have been steady lines since polls opened over the weekend, officials said.

Fear of voter suppression sent thousands of Miami-Dade County voters to the polls early. Many waited hours in line to vote on Saturday and Sunday.

In Monroe County, about 3,300 people cast their votes since early voting locations opened Saturday, Monroe County Assistant Supervisor of Election Joyce Griffin said.

In Key West, it peaked on Sunday during the "Souls to the Polls" rally, Griffin said. During the rally geared at getting people to the polls, 75 people voted in an hour.

"We want to keep up the enthusiasm and get people out to vote," said Key West City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, who helped organize the local Souls to the Polls rally. "We don't want people waiting to the last minute to vote."

Lopez is concerned there will be long lines on Election Day Nov. 6, and people will not want to wait or the polls will close before they can vote, he said.

On Monday, nearly 400 people showed up in Key West, Griffin said.

"There was a steady line down the sidewalk," Griffin said. "It has been steady. It hasn't been killer busy."

Early voting has also been consistent at election offices in Marathon and Key Largo and at the Islamorada and Big Pine Key branch libraries, where the supervisor's office is conducting early voting, Griffin said.

On Monday, about 200 people voted in Marathon and 325 in Key Largo. Numbers for Islamorada and Big Pine Key were not available as of Monday evening.

"It has been steady everywhere," Griffin said.

Early voting has become popular in Monroe County. Recently implemented changes to state election laws reduced the number of voting days from 14 to eight. The changes led to accusations that they were made to keep people, especially minorities, from voting, which pushed many people to the polls early this year.

Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer fought the changes to early voting hours, but ultimately implemented them when the federal government signed off on the rules in late August.

The election offices will remain open for early voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

tohara@keysnews.com

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