(SS) Early in-person voting began Monday with steady streams of voters in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
Through Nov. 6, early voting lasts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 15 sites in Palm Beach County, 21 locations in Broward and 30 places in Miami-Dade. Registered voters can vote at any site in their county, unlike Election Day when you have to vote at your precinct.
Broward reported less than a 30-minute wait at all of its early-voting sites. At the Fort Lauderdale Branch Library/Art Serv, a line of about three dozen voters snaked out the door by 11 a.m.
Michelle Slagle, 55, of Fort Lauderdale, had cast her ballot by 11:15 a.m., saying she didn't want to chance not getting her vote in.
"This election cycle has been so crazy, I had to make sure I voted first thing," Slagle said.
A life-long Democrat, Slagle said she voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "This is an election where we choose caring or vote selfishly; where we vote for [individual] rights or everyone's rights," she said.
About three dozen voters lined up to cast ballots just past 10 a.m. at Boca Raton Public Library at 400 NW Second Ave., as small crowds outside the building talked about local issues.
Richard Calabrese, 65, a dentist from Boca Raton, and his wife, Angela, 66, voted early because they wanted to vote together and hoped the lines wouldn't be too long. "We take the responsibility of voting seriously," he said.
The Calabreses said they voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "You have to know the system to work effectively in Washington," Richard Calabrese said. "Otherwise, it's just like walking into a buzz saw."
Patti Dervishi, 70, is a retiree from Boca Raton who supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. As she stood outside the library, a man in his mid-30s went up and confronted her with expletives, telling her, "I'll grab your [expletive]."
After the confrontation, she said, "That's the first person who's done that today."
She said she has friends who know Trump, and in talking to them, she thinks Trump is a good person. She also has relatives who dislike Clinton, she said. "I have three military [members] and two sheriffs in my family, and they're going to quit if Hillary gets in," she said. "I know she's a socialist and will bring down America."
Elections officials project that turnout for this year's heated presidential race could push voter participation beyond the nearly 70 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties during the 2012 presidential election.
Vote-by-mail ballots are already arriving at voters' homes. Voters can request one until Nov. 2.
"It's certainly going to give more voters an opportunity to be part of the process," Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes said about early voting options. "I think we could have a record-breaking turnout."
Changes in state law increased the number of days and hours allowed for early voting after long delays in 2012.
The state also changed limits on the types of locations that can be used for early voting is allowing for larger venues. Being able to use fairgrounds and community centers allows room for more voting stations and ballot printers, which should accommodate voters faster, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said.
"That helps us move the lines [and] provide for a little smoother experience," Bucher said.
Early voting, as well as on Election Day, requires showing a photo ID that includes a signature.
Valid forms of identification can include a driver's license, ID card issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, U.S. passport, military ID card, student ID card, retirement center ID, neighborhood association ID, debit or credit card, public assistance ID, veteran health ID, government employee ID or a concealed weapons permit.