HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Elections offices across the Tampa Bay area are reporting record early voting numbers, as thousands headed to the polls. Now, a senior Florida U.S. senator has joined the push to extend those hours.
Nearly an hour after the voting sites closed, people were still in line. There was a large crowd at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library. The line weaved it's way through the parking lot.
Record turnout has prompted some, including the Democrat party, to request an extension. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson made the same request Saturday afternoon. But, some voter's don't think it's necessary. Even James Branham, who was the very last to cast his vote at the library. Branham said, "I personally believe that the time that was allotted to the voters to get and vote was actually plenty of time."
Jenny Bunch, who waited more than an hour to cast her vote, thinks it would get even more people out. bunch said, "I think that would be awesome. I think it's bizarre that it doesn't go all the way up until Tuesday."
Ultimately, Governor Rick Scott makes the decision. Scott was in the Bay area Saturday. Friday, he refused the party's request and Saturday, when asked about Senator Nelson wanting to extend voting, he responded. Governor Scott said, "I have not seen the letter."
But, Scott did remark on the overwhelming number of voters. Governor Scott said, "I'm proud that this is a state that this is a state that has absentee voting. We have early voting and people are out voting."
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley agrees with Scott's decision on not extending early voting.
His county has seen an unprecedented number of voters. Corley said, "I don't see the need for it personally. I can only speak for my county. We had record numbers. We broke 10,000 in a single day."
In Pasco County, 115,000 people cast their votes early. In Pinellas County, more than 8,000 people voted Saturday, with a total of 39,000. In Hillsborough, 28,000 people voted Saturday, bringing the total to 166,000 early votes.
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After another round of rough weather, things will be much quieter through the holiday weekend.