As expected, voter turnout was huge in Florida yesterday, the first day of early voting. Some numbers across the state:

* Nearly 12,000 in Duvall County (Jacksonville)

* Over 7,000 in Orange County, mostly in Orlando, boosted by a big Obama/Clinton rally. That's twice the 2004 voting rate.

* Over 7,000 also in Broward County, as well as more than 23,000 absentee ballots mailed in

* 4,000 in Lee County (Fort Meyers)

* In St. Petersburg/Tampa, 4,500 voted in Pasco County and 7,600 in Hillsborough County

Reports suggest that voting was smooth in most areas, although the deluge -- though easily anticipated -- seems to have still overwhelmed election officials in urban areas. Miami-Dade voters had to wait up to five hours and morning voters in Orlando had to wait an hour.

In Fort Lauderdale, voters had to wait in line up to six hours because of a shortage of paper ballots. Seven optical scan machines broke down in Duvall County, creating long lines.

The waits were so long in South Florida that Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Miami) said he may file a lawsuit for additional voting machines:
Congressman Kendrick Meek delivered a strong message from his Miami Gardens office Monday night, outraged at long lines that in some places had people waiting up to five hours to vote.

Meek urged elections supervisors to offer those in line the option of mail in ballots, and said more machines were needed to aide the huge crowds that turned out to vote in Miami-Dade and Broward counties Monday.

"Something is very very wrong when a taxpayer goes to vote and it's an all-day experience," said Meek.
Miami-Dade officials say they are already working on getting 10 more machines.

Some worry that reports of long lines at Florida early voting centers will dampen future turnout. Long waits may be easier for retirees, but more difficult for those with jobs and raising families.