Heavy voter turnout leads to record-breaking day of early voting in Hillsborough, Pinellas counties

Posted at 4:27 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 02:30:10-04

Eager voters waited in line to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting in Florida.

Many Tampa Bay voters who woke up early to cast their ballot on the very first day of early voting, were met with long lines. Some waited up to an hour to vote.

“It was all the way to the end of the street and wrapped around the building and that’s how far it was,” said Joanne Thornberry.

That did not deter away any voters, in fact, it excited them to see the number of people who showed up.

“Because it means people are interested in what’s going on in our country and usually when I come to vote it’s empty and nobody’s here and so it's great to see so many people here,” Christie Rainbeau said.

It was a record-breaking first day of early voting in Hillsborough County and Pinellas County.

On this first day of early voting, more than 24,000 voters went to the polls in-person in Hillsborough County. That's an increase of more than 5,000 voters compared to the first day of early voting in 2016.

ABC Action News has learned voters waited between one and two hours at a handful of polling locations in Hillsborough County on Monday.

Elections officials urge voters to check estimated wait times at all 26 early voting sites before heading out.

"I drove from the Elections Service enter on Falkenburg Road today where there was an hour wait, I drove down to Amalie Arena and I walked in and voted with no wait," said Craig Latimer, Supervisor of Elections in Hillsborough County.

Concerns about mail-in ballots brought some people to the polls Monday. Others believe it’s the most important election in their lifetime.

“I know a lot of people think that their voice doesn’t matter. But if a million people say their vote doesn’t matter that’s a million votes that don’t get used and a lot of people have fought hard for our right and I think it's important that we honor that legacy,” Carl Vande Velde expressed.

“It was very easy, everybody was respectful, they maintained their distance. Everybody had a mask on, it went very smooth inside, very efficient,” Kathleen Kjos said.

Given the pandemic, voters are facing unique circumstances.

“We’re wiping down the inside of these areas, all the privacy booths, the counter spaces,” said Latimer.

Early voting locations are open through Nov. 1.

As long as you’re registered to vote in Hillsborough County, you can vote early at any of the 26 early voting sites. This year, there are two new locations at Raymond James Stadium and Amalie Arena.

RELATED: Amalie Arena opens as early voting location, 20+ other Hillsborough spots you can vote at

Pinellas County has five early voting locations. Click here to find the location nearest you.