Early Voting Making Big Impact

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The 2006 election season is only the third to use early voting, but by the way people have turned out to take advantage of it, it won't be the last.

Mark Andersen, Bay County Elections Supervisor, said, "Early voting is not going to shrink. It's only going to grow, and Bay County is evidence of that."

Many people say early voting is just more convenient for them.

Sue Snuggs, an early voter, said, "The last time I came out to vote on election day, I stood in line for three hours."

The relatively new phenomenon has caused candidates and campaign managers to change their strategy about where and when they concentrate their efforts.

Gary Bellamy, a campaign publicist, said, "As a campaign publicist I encourage my candidates to be out early in the election process and deliver all the information they can to the public, and stay away from that late season heroics and negative campaigning."

James Baxley, an early voter, added, "By now everybody should have had a chance to review who they're going to vote for, made an educated decision on who they're going to vote for. Anything you're going to see between now and Tuesday would not sway my vote."

"If you don't know it's only because of your own ignorance. You didn't look for it because it's available."

Joanne Bass, an early voter, said, "Everybody should have made up their mind by now. What else is going to come in at the last minute?"

Not everyone agrees. So why isn't everyone voting early? Some folks say they still haven't made up their minds and they still need time to research all the candidates. There may also be potential drawbacks to voting early.

"Some may watch and say I'm a little upset now that I'm hearing things that may or may not be true."

Andersen suggests calling candidates to find out all the facts before casting your vote. The last day of early voting takes place tomorrow.

In Bay County you can vote at the supervisor of election’s office in Lynn Haven, or the Parker or Panama City Beach City Halls from 9:00 to 5:00. The general election is next Tuesday.