The polls opened in the pre-dawn hours on Tuesday morning for the 2014 special election, and voter turnout has been slow and steady in Safety Harbor, according to reports from most precincts.
Lines were scarce at the city’s six polling centers, which opened at 7 a.m. and stretch from the Kapok Specials Events Center all the way to the Safety Harbor Public Library.
But despite the large number of absentee and early ballots already received, there was still a decent turnout at many of the precincts.
“We’ve been steady to heavy, but consistent the whole time,” Deputy Bob Pictor said of the traffic at the library, which is home to two precincts.
“We had four people in line at 6:45, and I’ve had to hold some people back outside so it doesn’t get too crowded in there.”
According to early results, of the 3,587 voters registered at the library precinct, 154 people, or 4.3 percent, had voted as of 10 a.m.
While the library turnout was steady, things weren’t quite as busy at some of the other precincts.
At the Kapok Center, there was a consistent flow of individuals coming in and out, but no crush when the precinct opened, according to veteran poll worker Doug Brown.
“It’s been slow and steady, but there was no one here right at 7 when we opened,” the man known as Uncle Sam said. “That’s the first time that’s happened since I can remember, and I’ve been doing this since 2003.”
At the Cypress Meadows Community and Countryside Baptist Churches on McMullen Booth Road, the story was much the same.
But while the amount of mail-in votes might have slowed the rush to the polls this year, some people still believe in voting the old-fashioned way.
“I like to participate in the democratic process and vote at the polls,” Michele Fishman, owner of the Reach Pilates center in downtown Safety Harbor said.
“I think it’s important, especially as a woman, because they don’t have the option to do that in some other countries.”
Another common theme of this early election day? Bringing kids to the polls.
Children were seen being exposed to the political process by their parents at the library, Kapok Center and Espiritu Santo Church precincts.
“They treat my kids great here, and the girls enjoy coming,” Kathy Leone said outside the church, where she had her three young daughters in tow.
“I think it’s important for them to see how the political process works.”
As a result of the lack of crowds and lines, most voters said they experienced quick turnaround times at the polls.
“In and out, quick and painless,” said Mike Platow, owner of the Chop Shop Salon, as he left the library.
But one man said he encountered a slight delay due to him having an address change since the last election.
“I had to wait a long time, about 15 minutes, because I changed my address,” Thad Shepherd said.
“I’ve been voting here for ten years, but they said it didn’t matter. They made me feel like an illegal alien.”
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