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Early voting still strong in Palm Beach County


More than 200,000 people in Palm Beach County already have cast ballots in advance of the Nov. 8 election, officials say.

Through Sunday night, 108,660 county residents have done early voting in the first seven of 14 days, according to unofficial figures from the county’s Supervisor of Elections. That amount nearly matches the 124,896 who voted early in 2012.

Nearly that many in Palm Beach County have voted by mail-in, the Florida Division of Elections said Monday morning.

Statewide, more than 3.7 million Florida voters have cast ballots via early voting or mail-in. That is 44 percent of Florida’s total votes in the 2012 presidential election and represents more people than voted in total in each of 39 states and the District of Columbia in 2012.

Of those voting by mail statewide in this race, Republicans outnumbered Democrats 825,918 to 761,818. In early voting, the GOP trailed the Democrats 684,100 to 739,306.

According to the state, of those voting in Palm Beach County by mail, Democrats outnumber Republicans 48,772 to 29,023. The state’s early voting figures for Palm Beach County— which don’t exactly match those posted locally — show Democrats also ahead 52,608 to 30,737.

Perhaps because of inclement weather, weekend voting in Palm Beach County was lower than weekdays. It was 13,053 on Saturday and 12,826 on Sunday. Voting Monday through Friday averaged 16,556.

In 2012, early voting lasted just eight days and went Saturday to Saturday, and the highest totals were the last two days, which were on a Friday and Saturday.

Whom does that help?

“Democrats tend to do better when they’re allowed more opportunities to vote,” Joseph Uscinski, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami, said Monday from Coral Gables.

Top early voting locations in Palm Beach County remain the Hagen Ranch Road Palm Beach County Library branch, west of Delray Beach, with 11,894. Every day, it has accounted for an average of around 1,700 a day, around 11 percent of totals for the 15 early voting sites. Lowest remains the Belle Glade Library, with 1,948, and an average of 278 a day.

Early voting started on Oct. 24 and runs through Sunday.

On Monday morning, early voters negotiated a phalanx of signs for and against everyone from presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton down to judges. A Trump supporter loudly suggesting Clinton belongs in prison stood next to a man with a “Hillary” sign who smiled and ignored her.

Do any of those signs change a voter’s mind at a polling site? Probably not, Uscinski said. But, he said, it might have the desired effect for people who haven’t given a race any thought except for the one at the top.

“When it comes to electing a judge or mayor, the people showing up may not know anything about any of those and see a name they recognize or heard of and vote that way,” he said. “They may have no clue, so they may be more susceptible.”


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