Debate impact on early and Independent voters

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SARASOTA COUNTY - The first of three presidential debates could help those still undecided in the race. Local numbers indicate more voters are going independent while many are already beginning to fill out their ballot.

The last day to register to vote is less than a week away. "People wait till the last minute and a lot of the third party organizations will be turning a lot in. We are seeing that now," says Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent.

Registering later may also mean making a decision later. That could mean more potentially influenced by the debates. "The biggest increase we've seen are the people with no party affiliation. The Democrats and Republicans are staying about the same."

Out of the more than 475,000 registered voters in Manatee and Sarasota counties, more than 25% are now considered the independent vote. 10,000 plus additional no party local voters this go around compared to four years ago. "There seems to be more and more people that don't want to align themselves with either party."

While the election is about a month away, the time is now. This week in Sarasota County more than 53,000 absentee ballots went out. "We are definitely seeing an increase in people asking for absentee ballots. I am anticipating the early voting is going to be pretty popular as well."

In fact in the last presidential election, by either absentee ballot or early voting, 60% of all Sarasota County ballots were sent or placed before election day. This in an election which saw a difference between the two candidates there of fewer than 300 votes. "You tell me how important your vote is? Every vote is very important."

The last day to register to vote is next Tuesday, October 9th. Early voting will begin on October 27th and run for eight days.