5 days before election, 22% have voted

Published On: Oct 31 2012 11:52:23 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 31 2012 05:52:22 PM EDT

More than 2.2 million ballots in Florida -- including 124,699 in Duval County -- have already been cast with four more days of early voting to go before Election Day.

Half-way through Florida's eight-day early voting period, 78,990 ballots were cast at early voting sites in Jacksonville and 45,709 absentee ballots have been returned out of 99,607 requested. Duval County elections officials say 22 percent of registered voters by Tuesday night.

In Clay County, 19,379 have voted early and 13,448 mail-in ballots have been received. That's 24.7 percent of the registered voters.

St. Johns County reports that 26 percent of registered voters had cast ballots by Tuesday evening: 24,409 voting early and 16,028 by absentee ballot.

Early voting locations, times | Florida voter's guide

Results of early and absentee voting are not released until the polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, but the breakdowns by party of ballots cast is known. In Duval County, 50.8 percent of early votes cast have been by Democrats, 36.8 percent by Republicans and 12.4 percent by others. 

The party trend is nearly the opposite for absentee voting, where 50.2 percent of returned ballots are from Republicans, 36.5 percent from Democrats and 13.4 percent from others.

As absentee ballots continue to be counted, political observers see an erosion of the traditional advantage for the GOP.  In 2008, Republicans held a 15 percent edge in mail-in voting.  Statewide, that gap has narrowed to 4 percent this election cycle, which concerns the GOP. 

Channel 4 obtained a letter Tuesday from a Republican adviser saying, "They are cleaning our clocks."

Crowds that set records on Saturday's first day of early voting have remained strong.  Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland says the level of interest could drive total turnout to 80 percent -- higher than 2008.

St. Johns Supervisor Vicki Oakes says this year's turnout could top their all-time record of 81.5 percent in 1976.


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