Early voting begins with a bang in Marion

An unidentified woman raises her arms as she leaves as other people line up for early voting at the Marion County Election Center in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

Americans can often be apathetic about voting.

But not this time. Not in Marion County.

By the time the polls closed on Monday, the first day of early, in-person voting, turnout had nearly doubled the total amount of early votes cast in the August primaries, according to reports by county Elections Supervisor Wesley Wilcox.

Turnout on that first day also outpaced the first day of early voting during the 2016 general election by about 20 percent.

As the polls opened on Thursday for the fourth day of early voting, 24,655 people had already voted in person, reports show

Meanwhile, when coupled with the vote-by-mail total, nearly 82,000 Marion County voters had already cast ballots as of early Thursday. That pushed overall turnout to about 31 percent.

In an interview on Thursday, Wilcox said he expected turnout, considering the combination of early voting and voting by mail, to reach 60 percent by Election Day.

“I suspect we might hit 80 percent, which would be a record in the modern era,” Wilcox said.

For context, turnout in the 2012 general election hit 72 percent, and rose to almost 77 percent four years later.

Wilcox attributed the spike to both major parties pushing intense get-out-the-vote efforts.

He also said turnout might reflect an “extreme response” to the presidential candidates, and not necessarily a boost in civic spirit.

“I wish all of our elections could be 75 percent (turnout),” said Wilcox.

As of Thursday, Democrats led Republicans in voting by mail, 25,664 to 21,609, according to reports.

But the GOP faithful have turned out at the polls over the first three days of early voting.

Republicans have doubled Democrats in in-person voting so far, 14,779 to 7,240.

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