HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Brisk – that’s the word being used to describe day one of early voting in Hillsborough County. While vote-by-mail has been breaking records across the county, it’s not the only option. For voters who prefer to vote in person, early voting polls opened up Monday in Hillsborough County and those numbers are already trailing 2016’s total numbers.
“Normally, the very first day of early voting in the presidential year, we have a big turnout. We had 18,000 people vote in 2016. We’ve already had over 13,000 people vote today,” said Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
Latimer says his team has added more voting sites to keep up with the turnout. “We’ve actually added 10 sites since 2016. We added some in ’18 and then we’ve added some more this year so, we were really fortunate to get some tremendous community assets at the Bucs [stadium], at Raymond James Stadium and Amalie Arena,” said Latimer.
There are a total of 26 sites to choose from during early voting in Hillsborough County, which runs through November 1, 2020, including weekends.
Latimer to CW44’s Andrea Alvarez what times to avoid and what times to show up for quicker voting access. “Don’t come first thing in the morning, don’t come at lunchtime, and don’t come at 7 o’clock at night. So look at that 10 o’clock[am], 2 o’clock[pm]. Now, you come at 10 or two today at some voter sites, you’re still going to be in line, I guarantee you that,” said Latimer. “So, I encourage people if you’re going to come out and vote, come out the first week, not the first day but the first week. Don’t wait till the last four days because there’s going to be lines, I guarantee you that.”
Latimer’s team is letting voters know about strict safety guidelines in place for a safe voting process. “Any in-person voting, we want to have a safe and healthy environment and that’s another reason that it’s a little bit slower too. We are wiping down the inside of these polling sites, the privacy booths,” he said.
Only a limited number of people will be allowed inside and surfaces will be continuously cleaned. Poll workers and voters are required to wear masks at all times and masks will be available if you forgot yours.
“When you come in, the first thing that you’re going to do is pick out your own combination stylus pen, you’re going to use the stylus to sign in the electronic poll book, the pen to fill out your ballot, and then we want you to take that souvenir with you along with an “I voted” sticker out of the polling site,” said Latimer.
But perhaps the most important note to make, behind practicing safety, he says is planning ahead.
“You know, if you’re going to wait till the last day to vote, which is election day, when you get up that day I hope you’re not sick or somebody that you’re taking care of isn’t sick, that your car starts, that you don’t have a car problem and you get shut out because you didn’t plan ahead. So, you know with early voting you have 14 days you can plan on coming out for 12 hours a day,” said Latimer.
If you plan on heading to one of those early voting sites, make sure to bring your Florida driver’s license or other acceptable photo id for check in. A full list of accepted IDs and early voting locations can be found at votehillsborough.org.