Early voting now underway across Bay Area, with many mail ballots already cast

Saturday, August 13 was the first day of early voting for seven counties around Tampa Bay. 

Early voting started in Citrus, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands and Hillsborough counties earlier in the week. 

Now, all Bay Area registered voters are able to start casting ballots in-person. 

Midterm elections in Florida: Key dates and changes to voting in 2022

"Come, vote in person, it’s a secure way to cast a ballot, we also have the mail-in ballot option and of course election day," said Julie Marcus, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. "The biggest thing about Florida that everybody needs to know is it is a closed primary state, and the opportunity to change your political party, that deadline has past, so if you’re registered republican, you vote for republican nominees and non-partisan candidates, Democrats, Democratic nominees and non-partisan, and if you belong to no party affiliation, then you’re going to vote for those non-partisan contests like school board and judges."

Some non-partisan races will be decided during the primaries, but most will be decided during the general election in November.

"You want to go ahead and if you don’t like the way things are going right now, the way to change it is you do have to vote, because the more people vote, that’s going to get things done, it’s going to make the change," said Gaye Junior, a Pinellas County voter.

If you are unsure who to vote for on some races, you can leave it blank.

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Elections supervisors urge voters to educate themselves on the races before heading to the polls.

Below are the start dates and links to voting information for each county:

August 13: 

Pinellas County - https://www.votepinellas.com

Polk County - https://www.polkelections.com

Sarasota County - https://www.sarasotavotes.gov

Pasco County - https://www.pascovotes.gov

Manatee County - https://www.votemanatee.com

Hernando County - https://www.hernandovotes.gov

Sumter County - https://www.sumterelections.org/

August 12: 

Citrus County - https://www.votecitrus.gov

August 11:

Highlands County - https://www.votehighlands.com

Hardee County - https://www.hardeecountyelections.com

August 8:

Hillsborough County - https://www.votehillsborough.gov

Desoto County - https://www.votedesoto.com/

Information on all counties in Florida can be found here: https://www.myfloridaelections.com/Contact-your-SOE

1.1 million Floridians had already cast ballots as of Friday morning in the Aug. 23 primary elections. 

Data posted on the state Division of Elections website showed that 1,041,766 vote-by-mail ballots had been cast, while 58,771 ballots had been cast at in-person early voting sites. 

In-person voting started Monday in some counties and is required to be offered statewide on Saturday. 

As of Friday morning, registered Democrats had cast about 506,000 of the mail-in and in-person ballots, while registered Republicans had cast about 425,000. 

Nearly 157,000 had been cast by unaffiliated voters, with the rest coming from third-party voters.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.