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Leon County Hopes To Lead Again In Voter Turnout Across The State

Early Voting starts in Florida Saturday, and in Leon County alone, they’re anticipating a huge turnout. The county led the state in its overall voter turnout last election, and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho says he’s expecting about that much this year, especially with early voting set to begin this weekend.

“It’s two pages front and back on both your ballot cards. Once you finish voting, you’re going to put in this blue privacy page, which is also your instruction page. Put everything in your envelope, where you’re going to print, sign, and date.  If you don’t sign it, it won’t count,” said a Leon County Supervisor of Elections office worker.

Thank you," replied an elderly woman, as she received her absentee ballot.  

This Leon County resident, making her one of about 30,000, has just received her absentee ballot. The only difference is she’s choosing to request and cast her absentee ballot in person at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office, instead of by mail.

“And, about 700 of those people have actually physically come to our office and requested an absentee ballot. And, completed it, voted it, and left it, i.e. early voting by absentee, which is perfectly legal," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho. "Overall, we’ve received 13,000 ballots in our office as we speak, and that number is increasing at about 2,000 a day.”

Sancho says his office is receiving a lot of business, and anticipates a lot more when early voting starts on Saturday.

“Well, we’re anticipating a heavy turnout in every voter category," remarked Sancho. "In 2008, Leon County led the state with an 86-percent turnout. And, given the kind of interest that we’re seeing from our voters, we’re not going to be too far off this November 6th.”

Across the state, there have been at least 28 counties, including Leon, who have residents who have received letters, claiming they’re from their local supervisor of elections, questioning the voter’s citizenship. But, Sancho says he does not anticipate it will have a big effect.

And, Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate agrees. He says he believes the intent of the letters is to intimidate voters, but he believes voters looking to go to the polls will not be intimidated. But, Cate says if voters see any of these letters postmarked from Seattle, they should report it:

“We really don’t want them to be intimidated, or feel like they can’t show up to the polls because of these fraudulent letters," said Cate. "So, anybody, who receives anything suspicious, whether it’s a letter or a phone call, whether it’s someone coming to their doorstep, and it doesn’t sound right, we want them to contact their supervisor of elections.”

Meanwhile, more than 1-million Floridians have voted via absentee so far. Of that, 468,000 are Republicans, and 414,000 are Democrats. The last day to request an absentee ballot is October 31st.

Early voting starts this weekend and ends November 3rd. The five early voting locations available for Leon County will be open for up to 12 hours.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.