Thousands of people in Tampa Bay vote early

Early voting is underway in most bay area counties

votelatimer

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – With the general election upon us, thousands of voters are taking advantage of early voting.  Early voting is underway in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota Counties.  It kicks off tomorrow in Pasco, Highlands and Hardee counties.

In Hillsborough County, the supervisor of elections office is reporting at the close of business Thursday, 121,706 voters had cast their ballots via mail and 69,476 voters voted early at one of the county’s sixteen polling places.  Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer believes early voting is a trend that is growing.

“People’s lives are busy and we’re seeing that,” Latimer said. “We’re encouraging people now, come out and vote. If you’re going to early vote, come vote.  Because as this goes on, you’re probably going to face some larger crowds and possibly lines. So we’re encouraging people to come out now.”

Latimer is also encouraging voters to do their homework before coming out to a polling place.

RELATED: 2016 General Election Voter Guide

“Look at your sample ballot;” he said. “It’s a three-page ballot, there are three sides to it. So look at it. Read the amendments so you’re prepared when you come in to vote. That will make your process a whole lot smoother. ”

Hillsborough’s Supervisor of Elections website also has a feature that will show wait times at various precincts. Christian Kelly was anticipating a long wait and was pleasantly surprised when he arrived at the Falkenburg Road polling location.

“Yah, super easy. Only took me like five minutes to do it,”  Kelly said. “It’s my very first time voting so I was like, I was expecting a big ordeal but it was super easy.”

Patty Hadaway was also pleasantly surprised.

RELATED: Early voting locations and times in Tampa Bay counties

“It went well,” Hadaway said.  “I knew what I was coming in for, I looked at my sample ballot. I knew what I was coming in for and was all decided when I got here.”

For more information on early voting in Hillsborough County, you can log onto the supervisor of elections website at VoteHillsborough.org.

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