Early voting kicks off in Hillsborough and Polk

- Early voting is underway in Hillsborough and Polk Counties.

It runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at various sites around both counties, and continues through March 13th, two days before the primary.

In 2008, the last time both parties nominated new candidates, 40 percent of Hillsborough County Democrats, and 49 percent of Republicans, voted early.

"I tell people all the time, Election Day is not the first day to vote, it is the last day to vote," said Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer.

Aside from a few early glitches of jammed machines, Latimer says things have gone well.

He says early voting takes tremendous pressure off Election Day itself.

In the 2012 general election, 62 percent voted early.

"If you are going to wait until Election Day," said Latimer, "I hope when you wake up that morning, you are not sick, your kids are not sick, your car starts and you don't have a flat tire."

The decision to vote early for some comes from memories of 2000, when long lines and a razor-thin election led to hanging chads and a court-sealed outcome.

Early voting is two-weeks long and covers two weekends, even for the primary, at least in Hillsborough.

"I am going to vote early today," said Annette Jenkins of Tampa, who voted on Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. "I always early vote."

"We want to vote, we want to vote in time, we want to make sure that our vote counts," said Ricc Rollins, of Tampa. "We have strong convictions regarding this election."

Most other counties begin voting on March 5th.



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