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Days Leading Up To Election Day: In-Person Absentee, Dems Lawsuits, GOP Sets Record Straight

Sascha Cordner

Election Day is nearly here---However, several Floridians have already been able to cast their vote during the gap between when Early Voting ended and Election Day began. While some say they’re grateful they could avoid the expected long lines of Election Day, others say the lines may not be so long.

Credit Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM
First Time voters Elizabeth and Michael Ruse just finished voting Monday at the Leon County Courthouse, with their four of five dogs, Weasley, Cricket, Grover, and Gaby in tow (one other was left at home).

Michael Ruse, a professor at Florida State University, came with his wife Elizabeth to the Leon County Courthouse Monday to do in-person absentee voting. The 72-year-old has a big teaching day on Election Day, and he wanted to avoid long lines at the Leon County courthouse.

“I didn’t want to be caught up in those horrendous lines. So, we came down today, and it was very quick,” exclaimed Michael.

And, it’s their first time voting in an election.

“I called when they opened at 8 a.m. to say what is the difference between early voting and in-person absentee voting. And, they didn’t even realize that’s what it was being called. She said it’s early voting just get down here, and that’s what we did," said Michael's wife Elizabeth.

Another first time voter is Florida A and M University Student Alexis Trotter, who says she's grateful she got the opportunity to vote Monday.

“They gave me my ballot and told me to walk in this direction, and go vote," explained Trotter. "And, I just went into one of the open booths, and it was really simple and easy. It went really smooth.”

She says if she hadn’t voted early Monday, she still would have been prepared to cast her vote on Election Day.

“And, I would have been up at four in the morning, getting my clothes, dressed for the cold freezing weather," said Trotter. "I would have been out here with my sleeping bags, and I would have been waiting all morning to vote."

Leon County is one of seven counties that was open for in-person absentee voting Monday. After a federal lawsuit was filed by Florida Democrats, Broward County became the seventh county to offer in-person absentee voting through Tuesday. Florida Democratic Party Spokeswoman Brannon Jordan says they also filed a suit over the weekend for Orange County to extend early voting hours by four hours because of a bomb scare.

“A bomb scare closed down an early voting site, and so our goal there was to open up that site, and also make in-person absentee voting available,” said Jordan.

However, some media reports claimed the Republican Party of Florida appealed the decision. And, the party’s spokesman Brian Burgess says he’s setting the record straight:

“It’s simply not true that the Republican Party ever considered a lawsuit. That never happened and we never objected in any way,” said Burgess.

Burgess says the Republican Party of Florida supports in-person absentee voting because it is part of the law.

Meanwhile, Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho assures voters, that as long as they can avoid going at a specific period of time, there should be no long lines:

“We’re advising citizens, that if you do want to avoid the lines that normally show up, just don’t vote between 7 and 9 in the morning, and that leaves 10 hours to cast a vote with no lines,” said Sancho.

Sancho says between 7 and 9 is when public employees want to vote before they get to work, contributing to the long lines during that period. And, he says with record turnouts, in areas like Leon County, long lines should not be an issue.

About 6,000 locations across the state will be open on Election Day. The first statewide poll results are expected to be reported at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Reminder: Voters can still pick up a ballot in-person at their local Supervisor of Elections office. The ballot would then need to be returned to the Supervisor of Elections office by Election Day, November 6th, before 7 p.m.

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