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General election wraps up as voters head to the polls

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

The longest, most expensive presidential election in history ends today as Cape Coral voters head to the polls to help decide whether Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., or Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will rise to the highest office in the nation.

More than 142,000 people have already voted in Lee County through absentee ballots or the early voting process, but even more are expected to turnout today to cast their ballots.

Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said she expects about 250,000 people to show up at the polls today.

“I’m still expecting some long lines,” Harrington said.

She said a surge of first-time voters and casual voters will head to the polls.

“A lot of inactive voters have been becoming active,” Harrington said.

A more arduous voting process awaits first-time and longtime voters as many will use the optical scanning voting machines for the first time. The process involves picking up and filling out a four-page ballot — steps that were not necessary in previous elections when touch-screens were used.

Harrington is encouraging people to be prepared by knowing where their precinct is, knowing how they are going to vote before heading to the polls and practicing on a sample ballot.

Voters can find out where their precinct is and print out a sample ballot at the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Web site, www.leeelections.com.

The Obama and McCain campaigns have been crisscrossing Florida in the final days of the election in an attempt to sway undecided voters in the crucial swing state.

Nationally, Obama has a 53 percent to 42 percent advantage over McCain among likely voters, according to the latest Gallup Daily tracking poll, but the race is tighter in Florida.

Real Clear Politics, an online polling database, shows Obama holds a 49 percent to 47 percent over McCain in Florida.

Besides the presidential election, there are several local races. Here is a rundown of those contests:

U.S. House, Florida 14th District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, will face Florida Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, Democrat Robert Neeld of Cape Coral and Jeff George, who is running with no party affiliation, of Cape Coral. Although Saunders is a Republican in the Florida Senate running against Mack, a fellow Republican, he is running under no party affiliation in the general election.

Lee County Commission

In the District 1 race, incumbent Bob Janes will try to fend off the challenges of A.J. Boyd of Cape Coral and Carla Johnston of Sanibel, both of whom are running under no party affiliation.

Les Cochran of Fort Myers, who has no party affiliation, will try to unseat Republican incumbent Ray Judah of Fort Myers in District 3.

Incumbent Frank Mann of Alva is looking to retain his District 5 seat in the general election against opposition from Sonny Haas of Lehigh Acres and Dick Kuhn of Fort Myers, both of whom are running with no party affiliation.

Lee County Sheriff

Sheriff Mike Scott of North Fort Myers, coming off a primary win in which he won more than 90 percent of the vote, faces Christian Meister, who has no party affiliation, in the general election.

Lee County Property Appraiser

Republican incumbent Ken Wilkinson will square off against Democrat John Glaser of Fort Myers and Larry St. Amand of Cape Coral, who is running with no affiliation.

Lee Memorial Health System Board of Directors

The Lee Memorial Health Board is a non-partisan, 10-member board made up of two members from each of its five districts. Six seats in three districts are up for grabs in the general election. Voters can choose two candidates for each district.

Incumbent Marilyn Stout of Cape Coral will face Stephen Brown of Sanibel and Anna Clark of Cape Coral in District 1.

Jason Moon of Bonita Springs will try to unseat one of the District 3 incumbents, Lois Barrett of Fort Myers Beach and Linda Brown of Fort Myers.

District 5 incumbents Kerry Babb of unincorporated Lee County and James Green of Fort Myers will try to fend off competition for their seats from Robert Freiburger and Vilmar Ribeiro, both of Fort Myers.

Lee County Mosquito Control District

Two of these non-partisan races will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

James Opp will try to unseat incumbent Lawrence Murphy in District 1, while challenger Tim Gardner will try to do the same to incumbent Mike Ellis in District 3.

Incumbents George “Pat” Mann Jr. and Bruce Scott will retain their seats as they are running unopposed in Districts 5 and 7, respectively.