early voting
October 27, 2020

With Hurricane Zeta expected to hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, three counties in this conservative region will shorten their early voting hours, a move that could hurt the GOP.

Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties are all Republican strongholds, Politico reports, and are expected to easily go for President Trump. But Florida is a swing state, and Republicans have been counting on getting voters to cast their ballots early in person, as more Democrats are returning their ballots by mail.

In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, early voting hours are normally from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but because of Zeta, the voting sites will close at 3 p.m. on Wednesday before reopening at 11 a.m. on Thursday, assuming there is no extensive damage caused by the storm. In Okaloosa County, early voting sites will close two hours early on Wednesday and open two hours later than normal on Thursday.

"It's an abundance of caution for us," Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux told Politico. "Hurricane Sally just in September weakened a bunch of trees and power lines, so we need to be careful, but I do think we will get back up and running quickly." Following Hurricane Michael in 2018, which hit the Panhandle a month before Election Day, then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) extended early voting hours. Catherine Garcia

October 24, 2020

President Trump on Saturday joined the more than 50 million Americans who have already cast their ballots ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. The president, who spent Friday evening at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, voted in person early in the morning before getting ready to depart the Sunshine State for three campaign rallies in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio, all crucial battlegrounds.

After exiting the booth, Trump told reporters he was very impressed with how secure the voting process was, especially compared to mail-in voting, which has become a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats due to the increase in absentee ballots nationwide in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, but Trump has continually reiterated his belief that the system is vulnerable to it. "When you send in your ballot, it could never be secure like that," Trump said Saturday. (Observers pointed out that the president mailed in his Florida primary ballot in August amid his criticism.)

Trump ended his quick exchange with the press on a lighter note, declaring that he voted "for a guy named Trump." Tim O'Donnell

October 23, 2020

Texas and Florida's early voters have already surpassed a meaningful record, and several other states are close behind.

As of Friday, Florida had already counted more early votes — 4,771,956 — than votes for President Trump in the 2016 election — 4,617,886. Texas passed that same threshold earlier this week with more than 5 million votes cast so far in 2020 to 4.69 million cast for Trump in 2016. It all points to a record turnout for the 2020 election — and potentially good news for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

In Florida, a poll from St. Pete Polls and Florida Politics suggests those early and absentee voters are overwhelmingly directed in Biden's favor. Among those who'd already voted, 58 percent voted for Biden while 39 percent went for Trump. Still, the poll found 49 percent of likely voters — including those who had yet to cast their ballots — were opting for Biden, with Trump close behind at 47 percent. Republicans will also benefit from a surge of voter registration in Florida for this election.

In Texas, polls have also suggested Biden has a chance of turning the state blue for the first time in decades, and a rush of early votes lends credence to that possibility. California, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New Mexico, and Vermont also cast more early votes as of Monday than Trump won in those states in 2016. Georgia, with 1.9 early and absentee votes cast as of Thursday, is close to passing that threshold as well.

The poll of 2,527 Floridian likely voters was taken Oct. 12–14, with a 2 percentage point margin of error. Of those likely voters, 60.3 percent had already voted by mail or in person. Kathryn Krawczyk

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