Early voting popular around the nation

10/30/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday

Long lines continued today in many early voting locations throughout the bay area and the state.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow, and for a total of 12 hours this weekend. Check with your local Supervisor of Elections for those weekend times.

Florida is not the only state to extend its early voting hours. USA Today reports that Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee have also extended their hours because of a huge turnout. They also report that those states, as well as Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina have had the largest participation of early voters.

Democrats in Florida have been excited about the long lines, believing that augers well for their candidate, Barack Obama.

However, that euphoria may be misplaced. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported today that after a slow start, Republicans have been casting more early ballots over the last week in Florida, and have almost caught up with Democrats.

They report that through Tuesday, Democrats had cast 41 percent of early voting ballots, while Republicans accounted for 40 percent.

Another key constituency that has not come through for the Obama campaign so far in the early voting is young voters. According to the Orlando Sentinel, young people are turning out in disproportionately low numbers. They report that despite the fact that major registration efforts this year boosted their totals to nearly 25 percent of the total electorate in Florida, voters younger than 35 represent only 15 percent of early voters, making them the worst-performing demographic group in the analysis.

However, that same analysis shows that blacks are turning out in huge numbers, as are people over 55. On Tuesday, Ausman held a news conference where he called for a Grand Jury to investigate Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark and Bob Sweat, her counterpart in Manatee County. Clark has been heavily criticized by Democrats for only opening three early voting sites.

Clark is facing opposition at the polls in Pinellas County next week. Jack Killingsworth is the first Democrat to run for Supervisor of Elections in Pinellas since 1976. Yesterday he introduced giant “wait clocks” at the three early voting sites. Killingsworth says they’re a reminder for voters that he is committed to setting up voting procedures where each voter can vote in 15 minutes or less.

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