JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you haven't registered to vote, time has run out for those of you hoping to cast a ballot in November's Presidential election.
The Duval County Supervisor of Elections office stayed open late Tuesday evening as thousands registered to vote at the last minute.
The numbers are still coming in but as of right now more than 548,000 Duval residents have registered to vote, and just Tuesday alone the office received more than 5,000 applications.
Michael Grant is one dozens of Duval County residents who walked through the office's door Tuesday with one mission.
"I guess I just put it off until the last second," he admitted.
The number one issue on Grant's mind: the economy, and that's why he says he registered as a Republican and will vote for Governor Mitt Romney.
"I came from New Hampshire. That is also a swing state but fewer electoral votes. Coming down here I knew I had to get my voice in and it's a big deal. I feel proud to be able to vote in this state now," he said.
Patrice Dukes is on the other side of the aisle and brought a stack of voter registration applications that she's been collecting as part of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
"Why am I supporting President Obama? He's a great leader. He's honest. He gets the job done, and he doesn't talk a lot. When he needs to talk things happen," she said.
Right now, there about 235,000 registered Democrats in Duval County, compared to about 205,000 Republicans and 108,000 with other parties.
What we've seen in the last 40 days is we've had close to 40,000 registration applications and the democrats since 2008 have been on the downturn. There are probably around 7000, 8000 less democrats than there were in 2008," said Jerry Holland, Duval County Supervisor of Elections.
Holland says there's been an increase of about 9,000 additional Republicans since the last presidential election, but the biggest increase has been in the number of Independents, up by about 14,000 since 2008.
While Democrats historically have outnumbered republicans in Duval County, Holland says the county typically goes Republican.
But in 2008, McCain won the county only by a little more than 1 percent.
What they see in this county is typically the bellwether if a republican can carry it large than it will help offset the democratic votes that are very strong in south florida. so it's one of those that a lot of times how they come out in duval county will come out being the tilting factor for the entire state," Holland said.
And as many first-time voters are learning: every vote counts.
"The last election I wasn't able to vote because I turned 18 after the election so this is monumental to me,"said Iesha Bennett, a first-time voter.
Early voting begins Saturday, October 27th and ends Saturday, November 3rd.
While the number of days has been reduced, the 17 polling locations here in Duval County will be open 12 hours a day this time around.
First Coast News