Eight days of early voting in Escambia County ended on Saturday, as did 13 days in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa. And now, other voters must actually go to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the primary.
Of the three counties in the western Panhandle, Okaloosa collected the most votes in the early period, at just under 6,200. Paul Lux, the county’s Elections Supervisor, says despite the most recent numbers, early voting is gaining in popularity. Absentee ballots processed in Okaloosa County as of Monday total just under 5,000.
“In 2010, we had just over 6,000,” said Lux on Monday. “Of course, we’ve only got one more day for those absentees to come in. So it looks like we’re probably going to fall a little bit short there as well.”
Tappie Villane is overseeing her first election cycle as Santa Rosa Elections Supervisor. She says they’re drawing from past history as well.
“In 2012, we only had the eight days of early voting. In 2010, we had 12 days of early voting. So you know it keeps changing, but it lines up pretty well with 2010 for the most part, because that would be the most similar year,” said Villane.
Out of the more than 7,500 absentee ballots sent out across Santa Rosa County, Villane says they’ve gotten back roughly 2,900. The deadline to return an absentee ballot is 7:00 p.m. Tuesday in all three counties.
In Escambia County, the unofficial tally of early voters is 4,354 in the county’s eight-day period. Supervisor David Stafford says that’s down from 6,700 votes cast in both 2010 and 2012. But, he adds that the number of absentee ballots requested is up, likely in part because of a change in state election law.
Stafford also reminds voters planning to cast ballots at their polling locations, to “know where to go.”
“The easiest way to do that is go onto our website at escambiavotes.com,” Stafford said. “There’s a link there that says ‘Where Do I Vote?’ and you just put in your information and we’ll let you know exactly where to go on Election Day.”
The same goes for votesantarosa.com, and govoteokaloosa.com. So-called “off-year” primaries tend to draw a large share of voter apathy. All three supervisors – David Stafford, Tappie Villane and Paul Lux predict low turnout in their counties – ranging from 25-32%.
The polls open Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. and will close at 7:00 p.m. WUWF’s coverage of primary returns kicks off at 6:58 Tuesday evening.