Palm Beach County voters brave soggy weather on first day of early voting

18 early-voting sites open across county
People waiting in rain on first day of early voting outside Spanish River Library
Posted at 12:15 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 18:44:01-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Early voting kicked off Monday at 7 a.m. in Palm Beach County and across Florida.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Elections 2020

Perhaps the biggest hiccup on the first day of early voting was the heavy rain.

But that did not stop voters from standing on lines to cast their votes.

A steady number of voters were going in and out of the Wells Recreational Center in Riviera Beach all day. At times there was a line of maybe 10 people, but it moved quickly.

There are two weeks of early voting in Florida, including two full weekends, but voters on Monday said they were eager to get it out of the way.

"I think it's one of our most important [elections.] I think 2016 was perhaps the most important, but this might be a very close follow up," said voter Josh Singh of West Palm Beach.

Nearly 10,000 early-voting ballots were cast by 2 p.m. Monday.

"The line was long but, when I would go around to people, they were telling me the line is moving," Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link said.

She visited a few polling sites and said she saw voters socially distancing and wearing their masks. Link said all polls opened on time, and so far, everything has been working correctly.

Akisha Wims voted at the Wells Recreational Center and said she was out in less than five minutes once she got checked in.

"Everybody knew what they were doing. I was happy," Wims said.

Farther south in Boca Raton, the rainy conditions didn't deter voters from lining up outside the Spanish River Library.

people wait to vote holding umbrellas at Spanish River Library on first day of early voting in Boca Raton
Many people who came to the Spanish River Library to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting waited more than an hour in the rain, Oct. 19, 2020, in Boca Raton, Fla.

With umbrellas in hand, more than 100 people wrapped around the sidewalk.

"I thought I would be the only person," Francine Van Auken said.

David Bear thought there would be more people. The slow shuffle in the line turned into more than an hour wait for most.

But most voters were happy to see such a good turnout on the first day of early voting.

"It makes be happy and proud that people really care," Van Auken said.

Boca Raton voters experience long lines on first day of early voting

As of Monday morning, more than 226,000 mail-in ballots have been returned in Palm Beach County. They are already being counted, but results will not be released until Election Day.

One voter in Lantana reported being concerned about her ballot because of the color of the pens being handed out to voters.

"They only give you blue pens, not a black pen. … The manager said, 'It's fine. (The election tabulation machine) will take it,' which I don't know that. I voted on a ballot that said use black pen only. Period. I used a blue pen because they won't offer black pens," said a voter named Vickie.

A voter named Vickie said she was concerned that she was given a blue pen to vote, instead of black.

Link said she is looking into the issue and said only black pens were ordered. She said either way the ballot will be counted.

"There's no rejection. Black is just of course easy for the machine to read, but if it has any trouble reading it, it will spit it out and it comes to canvassing board," Link said.

Voters will notice there are 25 mail-in ballot drop-off vans at strategic locations throughout the county.

In-person early voting is available at 18 different sites.

Registered voters have plenty of options, according to the supervisor of elections.

"Throughout the county, the advantage is you don't have to vote at any particular site. You can go to any early voting site in the county," Sartory Link said.

EARLY VOTING: When and where to early vote in South Florida, Treasure Coast

So, there are a total of 29 options, including secure ballot boxes, ballot drop-off vans and in-person voting sites.

Voting sites are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. now through Nov. 1.