MANATEE -- Manatee County has set a record in the number of vote-by-mail, or absentee ballots, requested this year, according to the supervisor of elections.
"We've mailed out the largest number of absentee ballots ever requested in Manatee County history," Bennett said Thursday.
With voters requesting 55,028 vote-by-mail ballots, and 39,788, or 72 percent, already returned with five days yet to go before the general election, "We're doing pretty good so far," he said.
Among those who voted by mail, Republicans led in returning their ballots with 75 percent; Democrats came in second with 71 percent, and those registered "other" returned 68 percent.
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Manatee County is also going gangbusters in early voting as well.
With Friday and Saturday the final days remaining for early voting before Tuesday's general election , 8,975 had voted by midday Thursday , according to figures provided by Bennett.
Of those, 3,052 were registered Democrats; 4,248 were Republicans and 1,675
listed "other," he said.
"Voters are loving the fact we have four early voting sites, and no lines anywhere," said Bennett.
A new, secure drop box that is available to those returning vote-by-mail ballots has also been vopular.
The drop box, located at the elections office at 600 301 Boulevard W., Suite 108, Bradenton, will be available 24-hours a day through 7 p.m. Tuesday for people to return vote-by-mail ballots, he said.
People may also return vote-by-mail ballots at any open early voting site through 7 p.m. Saturday, he said.
Among the early voting sites, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall was heavily patronized, running neck-in-neck with the supervisor of elections' office in Bradenton, with both averaging between 500 and 600 voters a day, Bennett said.
The Bradenton Area Convention Center drew a disappointing number of voters, he said, adding, "We probably would not use it again."
The four early voting sites are:
Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton. Supervisor of Elections office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton. Only those voters who have registered will be allowed to cast ballots; the registration deadline was Oct. 6.
The elections office will be closed on Sunday, but will be open on Monday. For information, call 941-741-3823, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit votemanatee.com.
Voting at polling places lasts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.