Early voting in Sarasota and Manatee counties began this morning, Oct. 19, at 8:30 a.m., with approximately 50 people queuing up at the downtown Sarasota Supervisor of Elections office before doors opened to the public. Residents came to vote early in person as well as to drop off vote-by-mail ballots; Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner has been urging voters to vote early to avoid long lines on election day, which falls on Nov. 3.

“Due to a multi-page ballot, expected high voter turnout and the need for social distancing and sanitizing procedures at polling places,” Turner said in a release last week, “we could see longer wait times and possible lines on election day. I am asking voters to help us to minimize election day stress for themselves and elections officials by choosing to vote early whenever possible.”

This year, Sarasota County launched an online dashboard to help voters see wait times at each of its eight early-voting locations. On Monday afternoon, downtown and North Sarasota locations were moving quickly, with less than 30-minut waits, but South County locations were reporting lines of up to an hour long.

Photographer Barbara Banks captured the activity at downtown's Terrace Building this morning—from essential workers to retirees to first-time voters, here's who showed up.

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