Ten minutes before the 5 pm close, seven people are still voting at the Frederick B Karl County Centre in downtown Tampa on Wednesday.
The long line reported from many centres is missing, but then most of the people who work in the area’s banks and other businesses have already left.
At the entrance, a worker says the flow has been steady since early voting began on Monday, with about 500 voters coming in each day. Two more voters walk in.
Inside, voters mark a paper ballot, then feed it into a scanner which records the vote for transmission to election headquarters. The paper ballot is retained as a backup.
Charles Streit, a 30-year-old patient care technician at Tampa General Hospital, voted early because he has an emergency medical technician class on election day, November 4. He voted for the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joseph Biden “because a vote for the Republicans would be a step backwards.”
Forty-four-year-old Karl Johnson, who works at a West Tampa construction site, “didn’t want to get late.” He says he voted for Obama because “I think we need change.”
Christopher Perry, an 18-year-old full-time student, also voted for Obama. “After the past eight years I am not sure I can trust another Republican to handle the economy,” he says. “And I was opposed to going to Iraq.”
Marie Nicole Bellefleur, a 60-year-old Tampa cafeteria manager, says she wanted to make sure her voice would be heard.
She voted for Obama because she wants to see change. “Life is very tough now financially.” Health care is also an issue for the immigrant from Haiti, who says she has “Indian blood in my family — my mother, my father look like you.”
Tampa is in the so-called I-4 corridor, which accounts for one in three voters in Florida. Early voting is expected to be tilted towards the Democrats, while absentee ballots historically have favoured Republicans.
A poll released on Wednesday found that Republican candidate John McCain has reversed his slide in Florida to lead Obama by one percentage point. With 27 electoral votes at stake, McCain returned to the state on Thursday for a “Joe the Plumber’’ bus tour from Ormond Beach on the east coast to Sarasota on the west.