Early voting in Lee County now open
Voters will now have a shot at endorsing their favorite candidates, after early voting opened on Monday for a near two-week period.
Five early voting locations are scattered throughout the county, with each sporting the same operating hours of Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 pm.
Early voting locations include the Lee County Elections Main Office (2480 Thompson Street in Fort Myers), Lee County Election Center Branch Office (13180 S. Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers), Cape Coral Branch Office (1031 SE 9th Place #3 in Cape Coral), Bonita Springs Branch Office (24951 Old U.S. 41, Suite #10 in Bonita Springs) and the East County Regional Library (881 Gunnery Road in Lehigh Acres).
Voters need to bring photo identification to polling locations — preferably a driver’s license — but Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said those who don’t have a photo ID will be able to vote anyway.
"If they don’t have their ID they can still vote," she said. "We’ll use a provisional ballot and match their identification through matching signatures."
Republican races will dominate the Lee County primary election ballot for Aug. 24, but some key non-partisan races appear on the ballot as well, including three school board races and two county judicial seats.
Harrington is encouraging everyone to get out and vote, even those without party affiliation who may think they are unable to vote until the general election in November.
"There are things on the ballot for everyone to vote on regardless of party. County judge races are open to everyone," Harrington said. "For those with no affiliation there are still things for people to vote on, very important races."
"In this pivotal election year for Florida’s future, we call on every voter to exercise their citizenship and vote in the August primary," added Deirdre Macnab, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. "Vote on your schedule. It’s democracy made easy."
Early voting closes on Aug. 21
Lee County Commission
The District 1 Commission Race features the most packed field, with five candidates vying for the seat left vacant when long-time commissioner Bob Janes died earlier this year.
Gov. Charlie Crist appointed John Manning to fill the seat until November, and Manning hopes to retain the seat for the remainder of Janes’ term as one of the Republican candidates. Manning is a former county commissioner and Cape Coral city council member.
In the primary he faces off against three other Republican candidates; Robert "Bob" Chilmonik, former Lee County School Board member; Mike Jackson, former director of the Cape Coral Economic Development Office and Chris Berardi, former Cape Coral city council member.
The winner of the primary will face Carla Brooks Johnston, former mayor and city council member of Sanibel, who is running without party affiliation, in November’s general election.
The District 2 primary race will feature incumbent Brian Bigelow facing three Republican challengers: Cecil Pendergrass, Dick Ripp, and Sonny Haas.
The Republican winner will face Democrat Debbie Jordan in November’s general elections.
The District 4 county commission race will not appear on the primary ballot. Incumbent and current commission chair Tammy Hall, a Republican, will face Debbie Jackow, no party affiliation, in the November general election.
County commission races are countywide, meaning qualified voters (Republicans in the primary, everyone in November) can cast a ballot in each race, regardless of the district in which they live.
Lee County School Board
The District 1 seat became available when Bob Chilmonik stepped down to run for county commission.
That means three candidates will face off in the non-partisan primary, each with no previous school board experience.
Mary Fischer, John Traube, and former Cape Coral Police Chief Arnold Gibbs will vie for the seat.
The District 4 seat will feature incumbent Steven Teuber facing challenger Don Armstrong.
In the District 5 seat, incumbent Elinor Scricca faces challenger Thomas Scott.
School board races are non-partisan, countywide races, meaning all voters, regardless of party affiliation can cast a ballot in each race.
Lee County Judge Seats
Robert J. Branning, Frank Mann Jr., and David Shestokas, all of Fort Myers, and Cape Coral resident Miguel C. Fernandez III will face off for the group 3 judge’s seat.
Former Cape Coral mayor Eric P. Feichthaler has challenged the incumbent, Archie B. Hayward Jr., for the group 4 judge’s seat.
County court judicial races are non-partisan, countywide races, meaning all voters — regardless of party affiliation — can cast a ballot in each race.
For more voting information call 239-533-8683.