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Turnout high in midterm elections as 11 more states open early voting

By
Clyde Hughes
Florida voters cast their ballot at the Hagan Ranch road Public Library, Delray Beach, Fla. on the first day of early voting on Monday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Florida voters cast their ballot at the Hagan Ranch road Public Library, Delray Beach, Fla. on the first day of early voting on Monday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Eleven states and the District of Columbia will begin early voting this week, including those with some of the hottest Senate and gubernatorial races of the midterm vote.

In Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott is trying to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, some county polls opened even earlier than the state's scheduled opening date. Early voting in Florida must start by Saturday, but individual counties were allowed to open several days earlier.

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Early voting sites in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties opened Monday at 7 a.m., as did other large-population voting areas -- Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Tampa.

Florida has also its first black nominee for governor from a major party in Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is facing former Rep. Ron DeSantis to replace Scott.

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Arkansas, Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts and Texas also opened their polls for early voting Monday. They will be followed by Hawaii, Louisiana and Utah on Tuesday; West Virginia on Wednesday; Maryland Thursday and the District of Columbia Friday.

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Kansas and Oklahoma will start early voting next week.

A large swath of states -- including Arizona, California, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee -- have been voting early for weeks.

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Voters camped out in Miami and Houston to be among the first to cast ballots on Monday.

Texas has one of the country's hottest races with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz facing a challenge from Rep. Beto O'Rourke. President Donald Trump was scheduled to stump for Cruz in a Houston rally Monday evening.

Tennessee, which started early voting last week, saw nearly four times more voters than the first day of the 2014 midterms. That was 120,893 voters total, including absentee-by-mail and votes made at nursing homes.

They will vote for who will replace retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker: GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn or Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former two-term governor, as well as choose a new governor to replace Bill Haslam. That contest is between former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat, and Republican businessman Bill Lee.

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In Nevada, which opened polls Saturday, Democrats appeared to have the enthusiasm edge. In Las Vegas's Clark County, a record number of voters cast their ballots on the first day, giving Democrats an early lead in the swing state.

GOP Sen. Dean Heller, for whom Trump has campaigned, fighting a challenge from Democrat Rep. Jacky Rosen,

Nevada political expert John Ralston wrote on his blog those numbers already make 2018 significantly different from the last midterm.

"Turnout in Clark County was near presidential year levels," Ralston wrote. "So the Democrats, who need to build a firewall in Clark, have a 4,500-vote lead. In contrast, in 2014, that lead after the first day was nonexistent, signaling a red wave."

Democratic voters even outpaced Republicans in red-leaning Washoe County, government data showed.

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