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NAPLES — As early voting wraps up on Saturday, voter turnout in Collier County is proving to be high for a mid-term election.
Most of the early-voting enthusiasm, county numbers show, is coming from Republicans.
As of noon-time on Friday, nearly 24,000 citizens had turned out for early voting in Collier County. That shatters previously mid-term 2006 turnout of 21,158. That still isn’t close to the last presidential election, which had 52,835 early voters.
For most Collier County early election sites, lines have not slowed voters down much, said Tim Durham, deputy chief of the Collier Supervisor of Elections.
That does not hold true for the Library Headquarters site on Orange Blossom Drive in North Naples. That site, the busiest early voting place in the state, has kept consistently long lines as more than 10,000 citizens have showed up to vote as of Friday morning.
To avoid lines, Collier election officials suggest voters try the Collier Election Headquarters located at the county government complex on U.S. 41 and Airport-Pulling Road.
With previous elections showing that many voters wait until the end of early voting period to cast their ballot, Durham thinks total early voting numbers could reach 28,000 in Collier County. That’s about 15 percent of registered Collier voters.
With another 28,000 expected to send in absentee ballots, Durham said that potentially 30 percent of Collier voters will have cast ballots before Election Day.
Durham calls the high early turnout “almost purely party-driven.”
In Collier County, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by a ratio of 2-to-1. However, in early voting, Republicans turnout is a 3-1 ratio over Democrats; it’s a 4-1 ratio in absentee ballots.
Durham said that despite a high turnout, election operations are “running smooth.”
When asked whether early and absentee voter turnout is an indication of higher or lower Election Day turnout, Durham said that it’s not clear for this election.
He does, however, predict that many people may be waiting until the last minute as they make up their minds on the numerous ballot questions and some of the tight races.
At the end of the day, Durham expects as much as 60 percent of the Collier electorate may cast a ballot by the end of Nov. 2.