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Early voting turnout worse than primary

By Staff | Nov 3, 2009

Early voting results for today’s general election were dismal for Cape Coral and Fort Myers.
A mere 2,808 people cast a ballot in the Cape, representing only 3 percent of the more than 88,000 registered voters in the city.
September’s primary election saw 11,129 ballots cast, representing 9 percent of all voters.
Early voting in Fort Myers fared even worse, with only 349 people casting a ballot, out of 25,600 registered voters.
The low turnout for both sessions has left one county official a bit mystified.
Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington does not know if it is disenchantment with local governments, a dislike of the candidates or general disinterest that is keeping voters away.
She speculated that it might be a combination of those factors.
“It’s probably a little bit of everything,” Harrington said. “It certainly can’t be convenience because we make it as easy as possible for people to vote.”
Such low turnouts could signal the end of early voting in Cape Coral in the future, according to Harrington.
The city pays for the opportunity to offer early voting, especially as a convenience for those who are not able to make it to the polls on Election Day.
Cape Coral paid $6,000 to operate the polling site for six days, breaking down to $1,000 per day or $2.14 per voter.
Harrington said recently that the city might opt out of offering early voting for the next election cycle because of the dismal turnouts.
When early voting opened Oct. 26, 545 people turned out — that would prove to be the high point of early voting.
Harrington thought the final day, Saturday, would have been big, but Halloween might have thwarted her hopes for a big splash.
“I was really thinking more people would show up. Maybe Halloween got in the way,” she said.
General election voting begins at 7 a.m. today, with poles closing at 7 p.m.
Incumbent Jim Burch is facing challenger John Sullivan for the mayor’s seat.
Jim Martin and Marty McClain are vying for the District 1 seat. Incumbent Dolores Bertolini is facing Chris Chulakes-Leetz for the District 4 seat, and Kevin McGrail is facing John Cataldi Jr. for the District 6 seat.
For more information on poling locations, contact the Supervisor of Elections office at LEE-VOTE (533-8683).