SARASOTA- It was a big election night for candidates on the Suncoast yesterday, but it was also a big night for Suncoast Voters.

“I think it’s an important part of our system,” Manatee County Voter Vickie Derreberry said. “And I want to be a responsible citizen here in the county.”

“I try to vote every time,” Sarasota County Voter Matthew Ayres said. “I’m an avid believer that we are given a right to vote in this country and we should exercise that right to vote.”

Those that did exercised that right in Sarasota and Manatee Counties were part of local history.

“It was a great turnout,” Bennet said. “In fact it was a record turnout in Manatee County, up until then 2002 29% was a local record, we went over 32% yesterday.”

“We had more than 100,000 people that cast votes or cast ballots yesterday in the county,” Ron Turner said. “That was a 31.93% turnout, so almost a 32% turnout that was a record.”

Elections Officials say controversial races, exciting candidates, and a presidential endorsement brought people to the polls.

“I think that drove a big turnout especially in the governor’s race,” Bennet said. “The fact that Gillum was running really drove the African American Vote better than we’ve had it even since Obama.”

“I think there was a lot of excitement around the number of candidates,” Turner said. “Because people often ask me what drives turnout, and really it’s candidates and issues.”

And this election season is just getting started.

“We have already pivoted,” Turner said. “We’re already working trying to finish up this primary election, and pivoting right into the general election because we expect this to be an interesting election also.”

Elections Officials are encouraging people to sign up for vote by mail for general election.

“With the turnout in November and the length of the ballot,” Bennet said. “ Our ballot alone up here is going to be approximately three feet long, if you really look at it, and if people are going to the polls and have not read those constitutional amendments they’re going to be very confusing.”