Sec. of State Kurt Browning: So far, so good for GOP primary; 656,000 votes already in hand

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Day-of voting in the GOP presidential primary had only been underway for about two-and-a-half hours Tuesday when Secretary of State Kurt Browning took to the podium at a Tallahassee press conference, but Browning said everything was going well. The only hiccup reported early was a polling location in Orlando that had to open in the parking lot because a supervisor of elections was late, but voters were allowed to cast their ballots.

As for turnout: 656,000 Floridians had already made their choice known through absentee ballots or early voting — including 392,000 absentee ballots and 294,000 early votes, despite the shortened time frame in 62 counties. Still, Browning wasn’t giving out any predictions. “But certainly I think when you look at the numbers that we’ve seen in absentee and early voting, it’s probably a good indication that we’ll have a good day today and a healthy day.”

Those banked ballots, by the way, are expected to heavily favor former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose organization is seen as superior to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; Texas Congressman Ron Paul has largely bypassed Florida.

Whatever the final result, Browning expects the state to find out relatively quickly. As part of the sweeping and controversial new elections law approved by the Legislature last year, counties have to report their early and absentee ballot counts within 30 minutes of the polls closing. Rolling vote totals have to be sent into the state every 45 minutes.

“I do expects our results will be more timely than we’ve seen in the past,” Browning said.

That could mean a big splash as soon as polls close in the Central time zone — with a ton of Eastern time zone votes already having been submitted to Browning’s office before official reports start going up around 8 p.m. ET. Results can be viewed at the department’s official returns website. (You’ll get a countdown to 8 p.m. ET until then.)

Browning, who is heading out the door soon, also briefly reminisced about his time as secretary of state. (His incoming successor, Kenneth Detzner, was on hand for the press conference and will be at the department throughout the day.)

“It’s fun to see everything come together at the end of the day and come together very well,” Browning said. “Am I going to miss it? You bet ya, I’m going to miss it.

“But it’s time. I’ve been away from my home for five years, and I’ve enjoyed serving under two governors, but half-an-hour phone calls at night with your wife just doesn’t cut it.”

Via The News Service of Florida

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.