Last day to vote early; Collier seeing record numbers as some grow impatient waiting

Dania Maxwell/Staff
People wait in a long line for their turn to vote on the first day of early voting at Coconut Commerce Center on Saturday, October 27, 2012 in Bonita Springs, Fla.

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Dania Maxwell/Staff People wait in a long line for their turn to vote on the first day of early voting at Coconut Commerce Center on Saturday, October 27, 2012 in Bonita Springs, Fla.

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Update: More than 600 early voters have cast ballots in Bonita Springs as of 2 p.m., poll workers said.

That brings the total for early voting at the Supervisor of Elections office in Bonita Springs to more than 8,400 since early voting began last weekend.

One woman fainted in the long line earlier today, but refused an ambulance, poll worker Mike Hornack said.

Voters standing in the line under a hot sun have been patient for the average 2 1/2 hour wait, he said.

"We haven't had a grump in the crowd," Hornack said.

Posted earlier

Update: Some early voters are giving up on the hour-long wait at the Golden Gate library this afternoon.

More than 100 people are standing in the line that snakes through shelves of books.

Disabled veteran Michael Apa, 80, said he'd take his chances on Tuesday.

"It's ridiculous when it's like this," he said.

Also on Saturday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott to extend early voting into Sunday. The League of Women Voters made a similar request earlier in the week; Scott didn't do so.

Posted earlier

Update: About 150 early voters are waiting in line late this morning at the library on Orange Blossom Drive for their last chance to cast a ballot before Tuesday's election.

Voters leaving the polling place reported about a 30-minute wait to get to one of the 36 voting booths set up inside.

Information technology consultant Deb Onderko, 54, of Golden Gate Estates, said the process went without a hitch.

"Early voting is great," she said.

Posted earlier

NAPLES _ Today is the last day of early voting, and if you join the ranks of people casting ballots before Election Day, you will be part of a growing majority in Collier County.

More people will vote early this year than on Election Day, Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards predicts.

Edwards forecasts an 80 percent voter turnout among the county's 180,560 registered voters or a total of more than 145,000 ballots cast. Already, the combination of mail-in voters and early voters has topped 80,000 comprising more than 65 percent of the expected total.

In the last presidential election, Edwards said, approximately 40 percent of voters cast early ballots. Voter turnout four years ago was 70 percent.

In 2008, more Lee County voters turned out early, too, with a whopping 85 percent voter turnout, About 54 percent of those votes were cast early, according to data from the supervisor of elections website.

So far this year, more than 73,000 mail-in ballots have been received in Lee County, election officials said, bringing the combined total of mail-in and early voting ballots to more than 110,000. Elections officials said they have received 102,772 mail-in ballot requests, so it is likely that more will be arriving between now and Tuesday.

All of these numbers will grow even larger today, the last day of early voting before next Tuesday's election. More than 6,000 people a day have been voting early in each county since early voting began last Saturday.

In Coller County, the seven-day total has reached 45,267, with 6,387 voting last Saturday, 5,403 on Sunday, 6,176 on Monday, 6,569 on Tuesday, 6,768 on Wednesday, 6,802 on Thursday and 7,162 on Friday. An additional 42,273 mail-in ballots have been received of 56,243 requested.

In Lee County, 43,595 people have cast ballots in seven days of early voting with 6,141 voting as of 6:45 p.m. on Friday.

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