Early voting in Escambia County for the August 26 primary kicked off Saturday morning, and runs through next Saturday, August 23.
Nearly 199,000 voters were registered in Escambia when the books closed late last month. That’s a 6% rise from the 2012 primary, which included a presidential ballot. But David Stafford, the county’s Supervisor of Elections, says the increase does not change his turnout prediction of around 25%.
Escambia County’s early voting period runs eight days. Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties began early voting last Monday for two weeks. Stafford points to some newly-mandated flexibility in the state election law, and their study of the 2010 and 2012 primaries, as reasons for the difference.
“Two completely different elections schedules, with virtually the same number of voters,” Stafford said. “In 2010 we were open for two weeks, and in 2012 we were open for just the eight days. We looked at it and felt comfortable, as did many of my colleagues across the state that eight days, for nine hours a day, would be plenty of time in this type of election for people to vote early.”
Besides getting ready for early voting, Escambia County’s Elections office is handling the more than 8,000 absentee ballots that have been pouring in for the past few days.
Besides new high-speed tabulation machines, Stafford’s office will be placing electronic poll books back into service for the primary and the November 4 general election. No longer will voters have to wait in lines based on the alphabetical order of their names.
The electronic books also will provide information on voters in all of Escambia County’s 79 precincts. That in turn, is expected to curb any voter fraud.
Stafford says more than 200,000 Escambia County residents could be registered to vote in the General Election. The deadline to register for that is October 6. More information on early voting – including the seven polling locations – can be found at www.EscambiaVotes.com.