Long lines not discouraging voters
Updated On: Oct 29 2012 12:06:32 AM EDT
Elections supervisors statewide say they had high voter turnout at the polls on the first and second day of early voting in Florida.
Election Day is Nov. 6, but early voting began Saturday. The numbers as of Sunday night show more than 54,000 people voted early in Broward County. The new numbers are not in for Miami-Dade County, but as of Sunday afternoon, more than 25,000 people voted in Miami-Dade County, and more than 54,000 people in Broward County. Duval County reported more than 20,000 people voting. So did Hillsborough County. More than 13,300 ballots were cast in Orange County.
In northwest Florida, Leon County had more than 5,400 voters, and Escambia County had more than 6,400.
Special polling places will be open daily through Nov. 3 throughout the state for voters who want to cast their ballots early.
Officials say more than 1.1 million Floridians have already cast ballots through mail-in absentee voting.
The long lines were not scaring away the eager voters.
"It was a little discouraging, but we were encouraged by some people handing out leaflets and giving out water. So we decided to stick it out," said Sherry Sultan, early voter.
The wait at the Hollywood Brach Library on Sunday was about half the time it took to vote on Saturday, even thought the line was still wrapped around the building.
More than 306,000 Floridians voted on Saturday. So far, about 48 percent have been Democrats, 36 percent were Republicans, and 13 percent Independents.
The Reverend Al Sharpton urged congregants at The New Birth Baptist Church to take advantage of early voting. His sermon was part of a statewide campaign to bus African Americans from church to early voting sites.
Historically, black churches vote in groups on the Sunday before election day.
"What we are doing here is preserving what has always been done. The black church has been the cutting edge of voting and Civil Rights in the country," said Rev. Sharpton.
State lawmakers shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight this year. The decision has drawn the ire of church leaders who say lawmakers are trying to suppress minorities at the polls.
Early voting ends on Saturday, November 3.
"It is the place that people in Black America gather more consistently and in bigger numbers than anywhere else. So, it is only natural that in an election year if you want to turn people out you have to go where people are turned on," added Rev. Sharpton.
Bishop Victor Curry says what is being asked of congregants transcends politics.
"It's the political unpardonable sin to try to take away people's rights to vote. Purging people from the list who are not supposed to be purged. We went through that in 2000 and Florida was the laughing stock of the world," he said.
Congregants will board church buses Sunday afternoon to cast their ballots at early voting sites.
Early voting reopens Monday morning at 7 a.m.
Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.