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Voting in Florida off to a smooth start, Detzner says

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said voting was off to a smooth start in Florida Tuesday, with lines at some of the state's 6,000 polling places and scattered rainfall in South and Central Florida.

Detzner predicts a record turnout, based on the fact that nearly 4.5 million Floridians voted early or by mail. (The highest voter turnout in state history was in 2008 when nearly 8.4 million people voted, including 4.5 million who voted early or absentee).

"We'll probably have a record-setting year in terms of turnout," Detzner said.

He praised voters for being well-prepared for a historically long ballot that includes the merit retention of three Supreme Court justices, 11 statewide proposed constitutional amendments and a variety of city and county referendums and charter amendments.  

"The stewardship of voters is very evident, that people are anticipating this moment," Detzner said. "People are well-behaved. They're doing a good job. The weather might be a bit of a factor." 

The state said it got a report from Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford that a woman fell and broke her leg in a parking lot in Pensacola, and her husband carried her into the polling place so she could vote before she was transported to a hospital for treatment.

The R.A. Gray Building in downtown Tallahassee, where the state elections apparatus is housed, is officially closed for the day and there is a stepped-up security presence at the building's entrance. "We don't want to take any chances," said Detzner's spokesman, Chris Cate.

-- Steve Bousquet