Early Voting Draws Large Numbers in Panhandle Counties - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Early Voting Draws Large Numbers in Panhandle Counties

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Election Day is quickly approaching, but thousands of Panhandle residents have already voted early, and the lines at some polling places have literally wrapped around the building.

Bay County Election Supervisor Mark Andersen said they've seen high traffic this week between their four early voting locations.

As of Friday, Anderson said they should reach 27, 000 votes in total, and he expects to reach 29,000 votes be the completion of early voting on Saturday.

Over in Walton County, it's more of the same. Walton Elections Supervisor, Bobby Beasley, said they expect high voter turnout, following a 74% turn out in 2008. Over half of those votes were early and absentee.

Beasley said he expects to see well over 8 thousand early votes cast this week. He's already seen around 4500 absentee ballots returned so far.

Beasley credited this to the interest surrounding the Presidential election and said increased traffic during early voting can cut down on the volume during Election Day.

"It's very important. Of course your vote counts the same whether you early vote, absentee vote, or vote on Election Day. But it does take a lot of the load off of our precincts on Election Day. We're always very happy to see heavy early voting and absentee too," said Beasley.

Meanwhile, early voters leaving the precinct in Walton County talked about the importance of voting in this election.

"It's very important. It's not just about people. It's about laws. We have a say in that which not very many other countries do. I said, "It's up to us to take and tell the government who we want and what we want," said Rose Caswell.

"It's very important. This determines our future. It's determines the future for our children, our grandchildren and many more," added DeFuniak Springs Mayor, Harold Carpenter.

"It's very important. We all have this obligation that we have that right to vote. We should take that advantage and vote, whether it's republican or democrat," said Romney Supporter, Mary Hutcherson-Jones.

"And even if you're undecided, come in and use your gut if you have to, but everybody should get out and vote. It's our right to do and if it's ever taken away, what's going to happen," added Caswell.

So, you can call it a privilege, an obligation or a right; but, quite simply, it's your decision. Whatever you decide, you're encouraged to make your voice heard.

The last day of early voting begins at 7 am on Saturday and continues through 7pm.

If you're voting absentee you must have all ballots signed, dated, and returned by 7 pm election night.

Of course, on election night, News 13 will be on your side, bringing you the latest election coverage.