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MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) — There are exactly two weeks left until Election Day and voters are voting.

On the first day of in-person early voting, Broward County reports 16,202 ballots were cast on Monday.

In Miami-Dade County, 15,108 people voted early.

Early voting got underway Monday in almost half of the state’s counties, including three recently ravaged by Hurricane Michael.

Counties throughout Florida are required to begin offering early voting on Saturday, but they had the option to start earlier in the week. The election also includes early voting on some college campuses, after a legal fight about the issue.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in July struck down a state policy he called “ham-handed” that barred early-voting sites on college and university campuses.

Besides Florida State University, early voting also began Monday at the University of North Florida, the University of West Florida, the University of Florida and Miami Dade College’s North and Kendall campuses.

There are 28 early voting locations in Miami-Dade, 22 in Broward, and 5 in Monroe.

It doesn’t matter which location you go to as long as it’s in your county. 

What do I bring?

Picture ID with signature

Sample ballot to speed up the voting process. There are a lot of candidates and a lot of questions, which means a long ballot. Start preparing now.

In all, 31 of the 67 counties started early voting Monday, including Calhoun, Gadsden and Liberty counties. Those counties were among the hardest-hit areas as the Category 4 Hurricane Michael roared through Northwest Florida on Oct. 10.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order intended to help voters in eight counties that sustained heavy damage in the storm. The executive order included authorizing the extension of early voting in those counties until Election Day because of potential damage to voting precincts.

The other counties in the executive order — Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson and Washington — begin early voting on Saturday, along with 19 other counties.

Another 17 counties will start offering early voting between Tuesday and Friday.

After starting, all counties are required to offer early voting through Nov. 3 and have the option of extending to Nov. 4. Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf and Jackson counties are also expected to take advantage of the executive order and extend beyond Nov. 4.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Monday called the early voting process “another convenient way (for voters) to cast their ballot and (it) reduces the potential for waiting in line on Election Day.”

In the vote-by-mail process, 930,808 ballots had been cast as of Monday morning, while another 2.3 million ballots had been sent out.

Republicans had completed 408,778 vote-by-mail ballots, to 357,227 by Democrats, 159,855 by unaffiliated voters and 4,948 by third-party voters.

In a daily early-voting assessment, the Florida Chamber of Commerce noted independents in Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Lee and Pinellas counties accounted for about 45 percent of the returns from voters without political affiliations.

“This is notable because it means that NPAs in conservative areas like Lee are returning ballots,” a release from the chamber said. “Older blue collar (no party affiliation) voters are a key part of the Trump coalition that (Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron) DeSantis must turn out.”

In addition, the chamber noted that the Republicans’ advantage over Democrats in returned ballots, on a percentage basis, is under the historic norm.

“Just like in 2016, the question is whether the Democrats have shifted their early and election day vote in favor of VBM (vote by mail),” the chamber release said.

Leon County has nine early-voting locations, including at Florida State University’s Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. The location is separated by the Florida Supreme Court and the state Capitol from the Leon County Courthouse, where early voting is also offered.

Early voting ends in Miami-Dade and Broward on Sunday, November 4 and in Monroe County on Saturday, November 3.

If you don’t vote early, you can request vote-by-mail ballots up until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31 and your filled-in ballot must be delivered no later than 7pm Nov. 6.

You can also vote in person on Election Day, November 6, at your assigned precinct from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CBS MIAMI ELECTION GUIDE

web wfor campaign 2018 election guide Early Voting Underway With Two Weeks Left Until Election Day

“The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner contributed to this report.”

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