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Early voting wraps up today

By Staff | Aug 11, 2012

After today, the only way to cast your ballot in the Aug. 14 primary will be to head for the voting booth at your precinct on Tuesday.

Early voting ends today at 6 p.m., eight days after it began, which included a Sunday for the first time.

And as of Friday, the number of early voters has already surpassed that of the last presidential election.

According to Sharon Harrington, supervisor of elections, 8,731 early voters have taken to the polls, compared with 8,493 in 2008.

This despite the beginning of school and other things.

“We’ve been butting against school starting and parents shopping. They need to get the kids going,” Harrington said. “Now that school has started, parents can vote.

Also a factor is that primaries are being held two weeks earlier because of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

“It’s too early in the summer for primaries. There are too many seasonal people here,” Harrington said. “I hope they turn it back in two years for the governor’s race.”

Harrington also said there wasn’t a rush in getting to one of the five early voting locations during the first seven days, though the last day may bring a small bump.

“Most people have gotten voting out of the way,” Harrington said. “It’s been steady, for the most part.”

Also, out of nearly 48,000 absentee ballots mailed out, 26,739 have been returned.

Harrington said the elections office wouldn’t have a demographic breakdown until after the primaries.

Early voting started in 2002 voluntarily and became mandatory in 2004. By 2008, early voting and absentee ballots accounted for two-thirds of all votes cast.

With limited exception, the Republican and Democratic primaries can only be voted on by those in their respective parties. A write-in, no party or candidate of another party closes a primary in Florida.

Because of this GOP dominance in Lee County, it is likely that many of these primaries will result in eventual election in November, Harrington has said, because the opposition will likely be write-in candidates.

The only Democratic primary is for U.S. Senate.

All voters, regardless of party, can vote in the non-partisan elections for judicial seats and the school board.

In the school board elections, the top two vote-getters will face off in November, unless the top vote getter receives more than 50 percent of the vote, Harrington said.

Only four judicial seats are up for grabs, with none having more than two candidates. Most judicial candidates ran unopposed, according to Lee Elections.

Those who want to cast a ballot today can do so at any one of these locations:

* Lee County Elections Main Office

2480 Thompson St., 3rd Floor

Fort Myers, FL 33901


* Lee County Election

Center Branch Office

(Across from Bell Tower Shops)

13180 S. Cleveland Ave.

Fort Myers, FL 33907

Telephone (239) 533-6918

* Cape Coral Branch Office

1031 SE 9th Place No. 3


* Bonita Springs Branch Office

24951 Old U.S. 41, Suite 10


* East County Regional Library

881 Gunnery Road

Lehigh Acres