The first full week of early voting has shown that registered voters in Hernando County are taking full advantage of their chance to make their voices heard before the Nov. 4 general election.
More than 6,000 people have already visited one of the two early voting locations to cast their ballots in person, and more than twice that number have returned completed absentee ballots, the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office reported Friday.
That means more than 15 percent of Hernando's 123,114 registered voters have already voted.
With no figures available from the 2004 election, it is impossible to say that this is a record for the county. Relying simply on anecdotal evidence, however, local elections officials say voting is heavier this year than at any other time since early voting became law in 2002.
Previously, early voting locations have been busy the first couple of days before the election and at the end, said Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams. This year, the volume of voters has been steady, with about 400 voters coming through the Brooksville elections office on Friday alone.
"We've never had that before,'' Williams said.
The reasons for voting early vary, she said. But common comments she has heard have been, "I don't want to wait. I've made up my mind and I just want to go ahead and get it done.''
"Some of them are also concerned about lines'' on Election Day, she said. "There could be lines and we do expect to have some because we're expecting a very high voter turnout.''
Williams attributes much of that to the typical upswing in interest in elections during a presidential election year.
For Williams, the high numbers are just a sign that the word is getting out and people are doing what they should be - having their say in who governs on the federal, state and local levels.
"Hey,'' she said. "I'm not complaining.''
Early voting continues through Nov. 1 at the Supervisor of Elections offices at the Hernando County Government Center, Room 165, 20 N Main St., Brooksville, and at the Forest Oaks Government Center, 7443 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill.
The hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Those wishing to early vote must bring photo and signature identification such as a driver's license.
For more information, call (352) 754-4125.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.
IF YOU GO
More information on the candidates
For those wanting to learn more about the races before voting:
The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee's Candidates Forum taped on Thursday evening will be broadcast again on Channel 622 at 9 p.m. today; at 1 p.m. Sunday; 9 a.m. Monday; 1 p.m. Thursday; 9 p.m. Nov. 1; 1 p.m. Nov. 2; 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Nov. 3; and 9 a.m. on Election Day, Nov. 4.
The program can also be viewed at those times by computer at hernandocounty.us. The program is viewable at "Live Streaming'' on the right side of the page.
For information, call (352) 796-0697.