MANATEE -- Months of intense political campaigning are almost over, with the exception of the candidates' last-minute "Hail Mary's" as voters arrive at the polls Tuesday on Election Day.
Across Manatee County, those who have not already voted will be filing into polling places, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
But even as voters repeat
the traditional method of casting their ballots on Election Day, thousands have already voted via vote-by-mail, or absentee ballots, and during eight days of early voting that ended Saturday.
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"We had a total of 13,871 early voters, and we have 41,647 returned vote-by-mail ballots," said Scott Farrington, assistant supervisor of elections on Monday.
That means that 55,518, or 26.1 percent of Manatee County voters, have already cast their ballots before Election Day even begins.
Registered Republicans numbered 89,984; Democrats, 67,649; and "other," 54,976, totaling 212,609 voters, according to the elections website.
The forecast is a typical gorgeous Florida day at this time of year: no rain, with lows around the mid-50 degrees, and highs around 80 degrees, according to Nicole Carlisle, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Ruskin.
"It should be a clear day," she said.
You must already be registered to vote to cast a ballot Tuesday, as the registration deadline for the general election has passed.
Officials urge residents to check their voter information cards before they set out, to ensure they end up at the correct precinct.
Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett had a few other suggestions.
"Show up tomorrow, tell them to get there, if their day works out, after 9 or 9:30 (a.m.); normally, there are lines at 7 or 7:30," he said. "So try to get there middle-of-the-day."
Bring with you a photo identification, such as a passport or driver's license, he added.
A secure drop box is available at the supervisor of elections office for those who want to return vote-by-mail ballots until 7 p.m. Don't forget to sign on the line on the outside of the envelope before you drop it by the elections office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton.
Information, call the elections office at 941-741-3823, visit votemanatee.com, or go in person to the elections office.
Link to supervisor of elections' office information about polling places :http://www.votemanatee.com/Election-Information/Precinct-Finder-Sample-Ballots.aspx
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.