Voters swamp the polls despite steady rain
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11/06/12 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday to gray skies and a steady trickle of rain in the Tampa Bay area. But as That didn’t deter voters from showing up early in the morning to cast their ballots on Election Day.

Before doors opened to the Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg more than forty people were already waiting in line to vote. Marguerite Mastry Dawson was decked out in a stars and stripes jacket with matching scarf and even socks. She was the first one in line. Dawson said she was a die hard Democrat and voted for President Barack Obama.

“I just think that it was a tough year, Bush left a lot of things for him to overcome and it just takes more time.”

At a polling place in East Tampa more than 80 people were in line before 8 o’clock. A woman who only gave her first name, Maria, said she didn’t mind waiting in a long line in the rain to vote.

“ Because I believe that I have to vote. It’s very important for us as people to vote to choose our president. I get wet but, it’s more important to vote than getting wet.”

Voters in Florida are facing the longest ballot in the state’s history. It includes 11 constitutional amendments. Most of them are wordy and that has been contributing to lines at the polls because it takes voters longer to fill out their ballots. Judie Clark voted in Seminole Heights this morning. She wouldn’t say who her choice for president was, but she did say she had a problem with the amendments on the ballot.

“I don’t think that we should be altering our constitution. That’s not what a constitution is for. The lawmakers should be brave enough to make these decisions themselves.”

Opponents of the lengthy ballot measures worry that some voters will either ignore them or not vote at all. Clark said she could see how people might be deterred by the amendments.

“That would have been very intimidating to me if I hadn’t have had the sample ballot and filled it out first.

“And how long did it take you to research everything?

“Well, I probably sat over coffee for at least an hour one morning and read and re-read and tried to decide what it was.”

But not everyone is against the amendments. Jeremy Lavin, a Mitt Romney supporter, voted in downtown St. Pete just after the polls opened this morning. He said he doesn’t mind wading through a longer ballot.

“It can be as long as it needs to be as long as they’re valid amendments.”

“Did you think they were all valid?

“Yeah.”

“Were there any in particular that you took an interest in?”

“I would have to say the limitations on raising property taxes.”

Most voters in lines this morning were focused on the presidential election. Some proudly wore campaign swag for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. But there are ten other presidential candidates on the Florida ballot too, plus write-ins. St. Pete voter Marcy Person wasn’t expecting that.

“I was shocked when I saw all the people running for president like Rosanne Barr.”

As of yesterday in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties almost 30,000 more Democrats had voted than Republicans. But analysts are expecting a close race between Obama and Romney today. Seminole Heights voter Judie Clark said she doesn’t necessarily expect Florida to be too close, but she thinks the national vote will be. Clark said she read about the town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, that usually votes Republican but didn’t have a clear favorite today.

“The town meets at one minute after twelve and does their ballots together and it was a tie this year – five for Obama and five for Romney. So, I don’t know if that’s any indication or not, but…”

Polls close at 7 p.m. Mail in ballots can be turned in up until then at any Supervisor of Elections office, but not at polling places.

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