Some Villagers reported waiting for more than an hour to cast their ballots as early voting began Tuesday in Sumter County.
Villagers lined up outside of Laurel Manor Recreation Center prior to the 9 a.m. start of early voting. The line was eerily reminiscent of a line at the very same spot in July when Coronavirus testing was offered by the state.
The line of early voters stretched from inside the recreation center, out the side door and around the front for more than 100 yards. One couple as they exited the center indicated that they got in line at 9 a.m. and were finally able to vote at 10:20 a.m. Seating was available once voters got in the door.
Supporters of President Trump were in the parking lot adjacent to the recreation center. They held up signs supporting the president. A lone supporter of Vice President Joe Biden, Darce Knight of the Village of Bonnybrook, was an official poll watcher. She had gone through the training program provided by the supervisor of elections. Knight said that everyone she had talked to was very polite and was eager to vote.
A poll worker at the Tierra del Sol Recreation Center was surprised at the turnout. He said about 150 people had voted in the first hour in which the polls had been open. He was said it was the heaviest turnout he’d seen in 14 years of working elections.
Michael Hardy of the Village of St. James was working as an official poll watcher at Tierra del Sol and said he was there to help anyone who was having difficulty voting. He also noted that voting had been heavy since the polls had opened.
By noon, the line of early voters at the Sumter County Service Center on Powell Road was down to only 60 or so outside of the building. At the opening, the line stretched around the building for nearly 100 yards. Many voters came by to hand deliver their ballots to Supervisor of Elections Office. Several voters mistakenly attempted to deliver their ballots to the tax collector personnel who were manning a tent in the parking lot. The tax collector has set up a drive-up location in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The staff directed the voters where to go to turn in their ballots in a friendly manner.
The Rohan Recreation Center also had a large line at the start of the voting. By noon, the line still stretched from the polling place to the front door and then outside and partway around the building. Most people wore masks and attempted to practice social distancing.
Early voting continues in Lake, Sumter and Marion counties through Oct. 31.
Early voting locations in Sumter County include:
- Allamanda Recreation Center;
- Laurel Manor Recreation Center;
- Rohan Recreation Center;
- Tierra Del Sol Recreation Center;
- The Villages Sumter County Service Center, 7375 Powell Road in Wildwood; and
- Bushnell Annex, 316 E. Anderson Ave. in Bushnell.
- For questions as to what precinct/center you are assigned to, refer to the Supervisor of Elections website for the county you reside in. Each has a precinct locator and other helpful information.