Nearly a quarter of eligible voters in the Tampa area have already cast ballots in the presidential election, with the Pasco supervisor calling the early turnout "phenomenal" and his counterpart in Hillsborough praising voters for their preparedness.
By Tuesday afternoon, 172,510 people had voted in Hillsborough County, or 24 percent of those eligible, while 70,419, or 23 percent, had done so in Pasco County. Those voters either used an absentee/mail-in ballot or reported to designated early-voting sites that opened Saturday.
"The turnout's been phenomenal, and I expected nothing less," said Brian Corley, elections supervisor in Pasco. "I'm very, very pleased. It's gone very well."
There are occasional lines and delays as voters decipher the complicated ballot — six pages long in Hillsborough — but "voters have been very patient, and they've done a great job" preparing before entering the voting booth, said Travis Abercrombie, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
William Delgado of Tampa was among those who did their homework.
"I did a little research," he said after casting his ballot at the Jan K. Platt Regional Library on South Manhattan Avenue in Tampa. "I was pretty well-prepared for that mumbo-jumbo in there."
So was Chris Cadorette, a salesman on his lunch break who said it took him about 20 minutes to complete his ballot at the Platt library. "I read through the amendments ahead of time," he said. "Some of those amendments are very important."
Elections officials had speculated that it would be the amendments — a total of 11 placed on the ballot by the state Legislature — that would trip up voters if they arrived unprepared.
However, "they're informed, they're ready to go," said Corley. "That's been a huge, huge help."
Supervisors in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas have posted early voting sites and the real-time estimated wait times on their respective websites.
Early voting ends Saturday, with polls reopening on Election Day, Tuesday. On that day, voters must vote at their precinct.
Voters have until 5 p.m. today to make a telephone request for an absentee ballot, which must be returned by the end of Election Day.
Local supervisors reported few if any problems at the polls. However, the Associated Press reported some voters in South Florida have been approached by people falsely claiming they were authorized to collect absentee ballots.
Also in the state, some voters reported receiving phone calls advising them they could vote by phone, which is not the case.
And the FBI is investigating letters sent to state voters that falsely raise questions about their citizenship.