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US elections: High numbers of Americans turn out for early voting

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Voters leave the Polk County Gov. Center after casting their ballots Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Lakeland, Fla. Chris O'Meara/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.
Voters leave the Polk County Gov. Center after casting their ballots Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Lakeland, Fla. Chris O'Meara/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Early voting started in the key state of Florida this week and Americans are showing up in droves to cast their ballots with just two weeks to go until the US presidential election.

There are 29 electoral votes up for grabs in the southern state that is seen as key for US President Donald Trump's reelection bid.

Thousands cast their ballots in the state as early voting opened.

"This is absolutely an important election," Florida voter Allison Fonte told AFP during early voting in Miami Beach on Monday.

"I feel like our democracy is at stake and I feel very emotional and patriotic about having the opportunity to do this, because not everywhere in the world you have the opportunity to exercise this right."

The two candidates have been charging ahead with campaign events ahead of the November 3 election.

Just under 30 million Americans have already cast their votes, according to one tracker, as the candidates travel from one swing state to another to marshal support.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden is narrowly ahead in Florida but Trump will be hoping for a repeat of the 2016 election where he won the state that had previously voted for Barack Obama.

Biden dispatched his running mate Kamala Harris to Florida, while Donald Trump visited Arizona in hopes of winning the key states.

But the focus is likely to turn to Thursday's presidential debate.

The first chaotic debate between Trump and Biden was seen as a low point of the election cycle and prompted the Commission on Presidential Debates to change the rules, stating that they will mute the candidates' mics while their opponent is answering questions to prevent interruptions.

It will be the candidates' final head-to-head encounter before election day.