MANATEE -- Today is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming general election, which includes the highly charged U.S. presidential race.
Those who want to vote have until 5 p.m. to register for the Nov. 6 election, according to Bob Sweat, the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.
Sweat said there are quite a few new voters who have registered.
He's also getting plenty of requests for absentee ballots, he said, due to the length of this year's ballot in Florida.
"This morning, the phone was just ringing off the hook," he said.
"I think one of the things that prompted the calls was when sample ballots went out, and they're saying, 'My Lord.' We're asking them to take the sample ballot, and mark it and bring it with them."
Absentee ballots also have been mailed out, with the first batch of 27,000 sent Oct. 5, and the second batch of 12,000-14,000 going out today, he said. A third batch of 10,000 will go out Thursday, Sweat said.
From then on, they'll go out daily, depending upon the number requested, he said.
Early voting begins at 7 a.m. Oct. 27, and continues through 7 p.m. Nov. 3, Sweat said.
Meanwhile, the final lap of numerous voter registration drives was concluding.
"We had people out Saturday and Sunday doing voter registration," said Susie Copeland, president of the Manatee County NAACP. She said a team of about eight or nine had signed up 19 new voters Saturday and 30 on Sunday.
She recommended that already-registered voters request absentee ballots, especially if they lack the proper form of identification needed this year under new state rules, such as a driver's license or passport.
"If you vote by mail, that's a plus," Copeland said. "You're going to have long lines, people will be waiting in line a long time, it's a good thing to vote by mail. I trust the supervisor of elections in Manatee County: I believe their votes will be counted."
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is at 5 p.m. Oct. 31.
As of late Monday, there were 89,373 Republicans, 67,168 Democrats and 50,399 other voters registered in Manatee County, according to the Manatee Supervisor of Elections website, www.votemanatee.com. Information, call 941-741-3823, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the elections office at 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.