Voters leave the Polk County Government Center after casting their ballots Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Lakeland.

Floridians started early voting in a lot of the state Monday with no severe issues reported because the Trump marketing campaign tries to chop into an early benefit Democrats have posted in mail-in votes in the important thing swing state.

Many polling websites had lengthy strains earlier than daybreak as voters awaited their opening. One county needed to shut an early voting websites after the elections supervisor and an worker examined optimistic for the coronavirus and one other county had its web site go down.

In Miami, Aldo Rodriguez, 62, lined up early and waited in heavy rain to solid his poll for Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump. He mentioned he needed to ensure his poll for the previous vice chairman will get counted.

Biden “knows pretty much how the country was running and hopefully he’ll get it back the same way it was,” Rodriguez mentioned. “No fighting against any colors or races, we are all the same. …We shouldn’t have this bickering.”

In Orlando, some voters solid their ballots on the enviornment utilized by the NBA’s Magic, the place coach Steve Clifford assisted ballot staff. The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning’s enviornment and the NFL’s Tampa Buccaneers stadium are additionally getting used as early voting websites as sports activities groups across the nation have been encouraging prove.

“I felt like I was a player. I just had to make the right decisions,” mentioned Anton Versch, 30, after he solid his poll for Trump. Versch, who works within the pharmaceutical business, mentioned his primary problem is “freedom,” significantly of speech and the suitable to bear arms.

“We should be able to do the most that we are allowed to do, as long as we aren’t infringing on anybody’s rights or liberties,” Versch mentioned.

With 29 electoral votes, Florida is essential to each candidates however particularly Trump, who moved his official residence to his Palm Beach property Mar-a-Lago from New York final 12 months. A Florida loss would make it almost inconceivable for Trump to succeed in the 270 electoral votes wanted to retain the White House. The state sometimes has shut elections, most notably in 2000 when Republican George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes after a recount.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, will go to Orlando and Jacksonville on Monday to encourage her celebration’s voters to solid early ballots. Trump will go to Florida on Friday after visiting final week.

Under state regulation, counties can provide as much as two weeks of early voting and plenty of do, together with Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and different inhabitants facilities. Large counties provide a number of websites and all counties enable those that have obtained mail-in ballots to drop them off. The newest a county can begin early voting is Saturday. The last day is Nov. 1.

About 2.5 million mail-in ballots have already been solid, with Democrats returning 1.2 million and Republicans about 758,000 as of Monday. Non-affiliated voters and third-party members make up the remaining. The variety of mail-in votes is approaching the two.7 million solid in 2016 when Republicans had a 70,000-vote margin on returns. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton within the state by about 113,000 votes. No Republican has received the presidency with out successful Florida since Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Florida Republicans say they aren’t frightened in regards to the mail-in hole, believing any benefit Biden will get might be swamped by Trump supporters casting in-person ballots beginning this week and on Election Day. They imagine Democrats are “cannibalizing” their very own votes — transferring in-person voters to mail-in with out rising their general help. They level to their elevated voter registration, which narrowed the Democrats’ result in 134,000, down 327,000 4 years in the past.

Political strategist Steve Schale, who runs the pro-Biden tremendous PAC “Unite The Country,” mentioned Monday that Democrats shouldn’t get snug.

“Republicans are going to get their vote out,” he mentioned.

While Florida Republicans have traditionally outperformed Democrats in mail-in voting, Schale mentioned Trump’s criticism of the apply has crippled his celebration’s Florida mail-in effort — despite the fact that he has praised his adopted dwelling state’s system.

“Trump basically decided to take a match and just torch 20 years of Republican work down here,” he mentioned.

In Orange County, the house of Orlando, the elections supervisor’s web site was unavailable Monday morning due to an issue with its area. Supervisor Bill Cowles mentioned there was no problem with hacking, and it didn’t influence voting.

In the Panhandle, Okaloosa County Elections Supervisor Paul Lux introduced that he and an worker had examined optimistic for the coronavirus. That resulted within the closure of the early voting web site on the county’s primary workplace, however 4 different websites remained open. The Republican-dominated county has roughly 150,000 voters.


AP reporters Mike Schneider in Orlando and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee and photographers Lynne Sladky and Marta Lavandier in Miami contributed to this report.

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