CLAY COUNTY – The Nov. 3 general election is so far has been one of the most acrimoniously contested in history, with the presidency and congressional majority being at stake. That’s why a record …
CLAY COUNTY – The Nov. 3 general election is so far has been one of the most acrimoniously contested in history, with the presidency and congressional majority being at stake. That’s why a record number of Clay County residents lined up to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting on Monday, Oct. 19.
Many citizens are doing their best to ensure that they do their civic duty in casting their ballots – some of them getting in line long before the polls opened at 8 a.m.
“Record-breaking,” said Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless the first day of early voting. “The highest single day of early voting previously was around 6,100, and [Monday], our very first day of early voting, we were in the 7,000s if I remember correctly.”
The actual turnout throughout Clay County turned out to be 7,959.
Counting 19,430 mail in ballots already collected by the elections office, 31,147 eligible voters in Clay County – nearly 19% -- had already cast their ballots by the first day of early voting.
The Fleming Island polling location had the highest turnout in the county, followed by Orange Park. The rest of the polling locations turned out in the following order: Middleburg, Eagle Landing, Green Cove Springs, Thrasher-Horne in Orange Park and Keystone Heights.
Multiple voters spoke after casting their ballots, referencing the importance of getting out to vote early as well as the smoothness of operation. The line moved quickly, and voters were in and out with relative ease.
“It was very important to me because I want to make sure that my vote is counted,” said Mary Kenney of Orange Park. “It was very short today. I only waited about 12 minutes.”
“I just want to make sure this is one of the most important presidential elections, especially in the United States,” said Mitchell Brooks. “It means a lot to me. Also, a lot of the amendments in Florida are very important, too, especially in Clay County.” Brooks said he only waited about 15 minutes to vote and that the operation was perfect.
One voter, a U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran who preferred not to be identified, arrived early in the morning to cast his ballot.
“I waited about five minutes [to vote],” the veteran said. He then spent the rest of the morning outside of the Orange Park polling station seated on the roadside with a Trump/Pence 2020 yard sign promoting his chosen candidate.
The general refrain among voters seemed to be that they sensed this election's importance and wanted to avoid any possible problems in the voting process.
Chambless believes that if the current pace continues, record involvement in the process could be seen.
“Eighty-seven percent is the highest amount recorded in Clay County in the last 40 years,” said Chambless. “Should this [voting by mail and early voting] continue, we could conceivably surpass that 80%, and should that be the case, we could see a record-breaking, somewhere in the high 80s.”