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Collier County SOE on Early Voting

Jennifer Edwards crop.jpg
Courtesy of the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office.

Early voting started in Collier County on Monday and already more than 40% of registered voters have cast ballots for the general election.

WGCU’s Andrea Perdomo spoke with Collier’s Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, about early voting and projected voter turnout.

Jennifer Edwards (Made by Headliner).mp4

Here is a transcription of their conversation:

Perdomo:
Early voting started in your county Oct.19. What has voter turnout been like so far?

Edwards:
Voter turnout has been extremely well. We have record numbers voting so far every day. Yeah. Of course, it's just been three days, but we're real pleased.

Perdomo:
Have early voting locations in Collier seen long wait times?

Edwards:
I think, yes. Compared, of course, especially to the primary, but we're averaging about 30-minute wait time at most of our locations. Of course, we have an early voting location in Everglades City and in Immokalee, and their wait times are not as long. But at some of the others, we’re averaging around 30 to 45 minutes.

Perdomo:
What tips do you have for people who plan to participate in early voting?

Edwards:
We encourage them, of course, to bring their ID, and most people use their Florida driver's license. But there's a list of about a dozen other IDs on our website at colliervotes.com that can be used as an ID at the polling location. So, if they want to wear their mask, we encourage that, that they wear a mask and they can wear gloves. They can wear shields. Whatever personal protection equipment that they feel most comfortable with, we encourage it. But no voter is turned away. If they do not want to wear a mask, they still are going to be voting. We ask them to come with patience because, as I said, we do have lines.

Perdomo:
So far, 40% of registered voters in your county have cast ballots. What do you expect the final turnout to be on election night?

Edwards:
Oh, well, we anticipate about an 85% turnout. It may even exceed that. In 2016, Collier County had the highest turnout in the 2016 general election in the state. What that means is in 2016 general, 87% of our voters voted.

Perdomo:
Are you anticipating that Collier County will hold the record for highest voter participation for the 2020 general election as well?

Edwards:
Yes, I do.

Perdomo:
More than 75,000 mail-in ballots have been cast so far in Collier. You've been the supervisor of elections in Collier County for 20 years now, have you seen that many mail-in ballots turned in nearly two weeks ahead of a general election before?

Edwards:
No, I have not. I'm very, very pleased with our voters.

Perdomo:
Is your office counting those ballots as they come in?

Edwards:
Yes. We've been tabulating our ballots since about October 2nd. We have a process we go through. So when somebody drops their ballot off to us or mails it, it takes us a couple of days to process that ballot, and then it becomes tabulated.

Perdomo:
Are you encouraging voters to cast ballots early?

Edwards:
Yes, yes. We've done a lot on social media and in our press releases encouraging voters to request mail ballots and to come out and vote early.

Perdomo:
Why are you encouraging people to vote early this year?

Edwards:
It's a good idea to come on out and vote early so there will be fewer people in lines on Election Day. I want to remind people that we will be early voting this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday, and then we will have early voting all next week through Saturday. We end early voting at 6:00 on October 31st. so we'll be here, and we encourage our voters to come out and vote.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
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