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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Coping with 'a rush of voters'



Election supervisors told the state Friday they're coping with the flood of early voters well, but that they never expected this many people to turn out. As of Thursday night, 608,796 people had cast early ballots or more than 5-percent of the statewide electorate of 11-million. Early voting ends Sunday, Nov. 2.

"What we're all experiencing is just a rush of voters that we could not have anticipated. No one could have anticipated that this election would be so historic and draw as much attention as it has," said Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes, who posts wait times on her web site.

Snipes and Sarasota's Kathy Dent voiced opposition to expanding early voting hours next week because it would cause logistical problems. Secretary of State Kurt Browning told them in a conference call that he has no plans to expand it, despite a plea from all nine Democratic members of Congress in Florida. 

In other developments:

* The state will not post any returns on its web site before 8 p.m. EST on Nov. 4, because most of the Panhandle is in central time and Browning doesn't want projections of winners and losers to influence voters who are still voting. This is believed to be the first time the state is withholding some election results.

* Hillsborough County's Kathy Harris had a testy exchange with Browning on whether the county needs state approval to "deviate" from state directives and verify voters' identities at the polls on Election Day. "You don't need my authority, nor will I grant that authority," Browning replied tersely.   

* Pinellas Supervisor Deborah Clark wants an expedited OK from the state so she can begin a machine recount in a close race as soon as possible after Election Night. Browning said no but that the state is prepared "to do whatever we can" to avoid recount delays. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 4:39pm]


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