Early voting numbers up in many Tampa Bay area counties

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(WFLA) — Jullian Sutton and his wife Anja cast their ballot’s on Monday in Hillsborough County.

Like a growing number of people, they opted to take advantage of the early voting option, others mailed in their ballots to avoid long lines or other problems on Tuesday.

“For us, one, it’s our day off and two, the polls are probably going to the polls are probably going to be packed out, so we wanted to come and get an early vote just to make sure we got our vote in for sure,” said Jullian Sutton

49 percent of registered voters took one of the early voting options in Hillsborough County.

“I think that people are just taking advantage of it. Our lives are so busy. It’s much easier, I’m taking the kids to soccer, let me drop by and vote while they are open this weekend,” said Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer.

In Pasco County, 57 percent of registered voters took the early voting option. That’s up from just 19.65 percent in 2012.

Dr. Ed Benton, USF Political Science Professor, says both parties put a strong effort into getting people to vote early.

“It looks as though particularly African Americans and Hispanics have been voting in large numbers,” said Benton.

Those numbers would seem to favor Democrats and Hillary Clinton.

Statewide, Democrats have voted in greater numbers so far, but there is also a large number of voters with no party affiliation who have voted early.

Benton believes there are a number of factors pushing the early vote.

“The closeness of the vote, the controversial nature of the candidates,” said Benton.

Craig Latimer says the early voting numbers also help keep down the lines at many polling places on election day, which will benefit the people who are waiting until the last minute to make a decision.

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