MANATEE -- Early voting in Florida ends Saturday, and nearly 34,000 people in Manatee County have already voted for their presidential nominee.
There are 25,965 people in Manatee County who have sent mail-in ballots, 7,892 have voted early on location and another 14,461 have requested mail-in ballots, but not sent them back yet, the Florida Division of Elections reported Friday morning. Republican votes nearly double Democratic votes in each category.
In Florida, a total of 1,080,622 people have sent mail-in ballots, 588,428 have voted early in person and 685,826 have requested mail-in ballots but haven't returned them, according to reports from Friday morning.
Early voters outside the Supervisor of Elections Office Friday morning ran the gamut, with some voicing support for Republicans Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio signs were just outside the 100-feet boundary around the voting location.
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Dan Miley, 68, and Donna Miley, 65, both of Bradenton, said they plan to vote for Trump. Both said they don't consider themselves loyal to the GOP and will generally vote for the candidate they think is best regardless of the candidate's affiliation. Donna Miley said she hadn't fully decided to vote for
Trump until Friday morning, when she heard former candidate Ben Carson would be endorsing Trump.
"The country needs to change," Dan Miley said.
"And we need someone who can do it in a hurry," Donna Miley added.
Mike Hood, 61, of Bradenton, said his vote for Cruz wasn't so much a vote for Cruz as a vote against Trump. However, he said as a Republican he would still vote by his party in the general election, even if Trump were that nominee.
"I don't want Donald Trump to win. He scares me, and that's the gist of it, mostly," Hood said. "I really like Marco Rubio, but I don't think he's in a position to win this election."
Raine Sagramsingh, 21, of Bradenton, said she voted for Clinton.
"She has a lot of qualifications to run the country," Sagramsingh said. "I think she'll continue on the good things (under President Barack Obama) that she sees working, which is a good thing. ... But I also think she has a lot of different views so we can make more progress."
Erin Bowman, 35, of Bradenton, said she voted for Sanders and, even though he was down significantly compared with Clinton in Florida polls, she believed he had a fighting chance. Regardless, she said she would vote for the Democratic nominee in November.
"I don't know how any woman could vote Republican and wake up in the morning," Bowman said.
But regardless of views, Bowman said while she knew this election was particularly polarizing, it upset her to hear people say they wouldn't be voting at all.
"You need to vote," she said. "It's your right that people fought and died for."
The primary election is Tuesday. Five early voting locations in Manatee County open to all voters from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday are:
Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.
Palmetto Library, 923 Sixth St. W.
Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton.
Supervisor of Elections Office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton.
West Manatee Fire and Rescue Administration, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby