The final day of early voting before the general election in Manatee County concluded the best early voting cycle Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett can remember.
“It’s unbelievable. Really unbelievable,” he said Saturday night after the final early voting locations closed at 7 p.m.
Overall, 49 percent of Manatee County’s 231,056 active voters have already cast their ballots.
The highly contested presidential race helped drive the early voting numbers, Bennett said, but he added that having five early voting locations and the ease of voting by mail likely drove up the numbers as well. With basically 50 percent of Manatee County voters having cast ballots, Bennett expects about 80 percent of all the county’s registered voters to have voted by the time the election ends.
More than 46,000 of those ballots were cast during in-person early voting, but most people took advantage of the vote-by-mail option, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office website Saturday night.
Republicans make up 43.5 percent of the county’s political demographic, and 47 percent of its eligible voters have already made their choices. Democrats in the county make up 30.9 percent of the population, and 32 percent have cast their ballots.
Voters categorized as “other,” which includes no party affiliation or third-party voters, make up 25.6 percent of Manatee County’s voter demographic, and 21 percent of them have already voted.
Slim statewide margins already showing between Democrats and Republicans will likely mean a recount in the state, Bennett predicted Saturday. Either way, he expects it to be a real close presidential race in the state.
“I think this race is going to be very, very narrow,” he said.
With early voting over, all remaining eligible voters will have to report to the polls on Tuesday to participate in the election. Polls across the state will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters must report to their specified polling locations. A list can be found online at the supervisor’s office site. Voters must also bring a valid photo ID card with them.
Because so many voters have already cast ballots, Bennett said he doesn’t expect lines for those who do show up Tuesday.