Thousands line up to vote in Leon County on first day of early voting period

Posted at 6:11 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 18:11:50-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Floridians lined up to vote Monday as early voting kicked off in most of the state.

For some in South Florida, that meant waiting in long lines in the rain as more than three million people are expected to vote early in Florida this year.

Leon County saw similar lines at Northeast Library, where at one point, voters had to wait more than an hour to vote.

Things are much different now, with voters only waiting about half of that time.

But the line is still long, and many community organizations hope to keep them that way for weeks to come.

"There's so many ways that we can we can feel like, 'Hey, so much might feel out my control,'" said Eric Jones, with FSUs Center for Leadership & Social Change. "But this isn't. And so I think that that is definitely, for sure, a big energy that's going on right now."

It's that energy bringing thousands of people in Leon County out to vote early, including one polling location with about 200 people lined up before the doors opened.

"There's a lot more enthusiasm for voting," said Bob Rackleff, the founder of Big Bend Voting Rights Project. "You can see it wherever you go to neighborhoods in Tallahassee. Things like yard signs that you didn't see before."

Rackleff spent his summer building that enthusiasm, going door-to-door registering voters.

Now, he's revisiting the 700 Leon County people he registered, reminding them now is the time to vote.

Souls to the Polls is also working on getting people excited to vote with a rally at Bethel Baptist Church, followed by a march to the polls in honor of the many marches during the Civil Rights Movement.

"People with numbers make a difference," Don Tolliver said. "Many races have been lost by one vote. A culmination of votes makes a movement."

There is also help to meet transportation challenges.

"I think overall, really, our hope with this work is to try and reduce as many barriers as possible and for students to get out there and vote and have their voices heard," said Jones. "Also, try to be as informed as possible."

Noles to the Polls on Florida State's campus gives students a lift to help them get their votes in. The FSU Shuttle will run every day of early voting.

The Souls to the Polls event is on Nov. 1 Early voting ends the same day.

For current wait times at polling locations across Leon County, click here. To see a break down of how many votes have been cast during the early voting period so far, click here.