Elections

Manatee County sets a record for absentee voting, official says

MANATEE -- A record number of people in Manatee County requested absentee ballots for the upcoming general election, and about 29 percent of the local electorate has already voted, according to the supervisor of elections.

By Monday morning, roughly 40,000 had requested absentee ballots for the general election Tuesday, topping a previous record of about 26,000 or so, Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat said. And at least 75 percent of those have been returned, he estimated.

And 29 percent of Manatee voters -- between 48,000 and 49,000 -- have voted early or via absentee ballot, Sweat added.

The requests for absentee ballots continued Monday, as those who did not manage to get to early voting at Manatee's lone site waited in line.

At times, a line of people snaked out the front door at the elections office.

The polls for the general election are scheduled to be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday.

Sweat said his office was trying to accommodate everyone.

Potential voters were told they would have to wait an hour for their absentee ballots to be prepared, since the ballots differ, depending upon where the person lives.

Some waited in the lobby at Sweat's office, while others said they would return to pick up their absentee ballots.

Statewide, Floridians who voted early and via absentee ballot through Saturday totaled 4,421,453, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

That compares to 4,512,174 in the 2008 election, according to Chris Cate, a spokesman for the division.

Of the overall total, 1,892,677 were Democrat; 1,733,065 Republican, and 795,711 listed party affiliation as "other," Cate said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twittercface fontname="Roman" naxe="0" iaxis="0"/>

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