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Voters have much to consider going forward

By Staff | Aug 18, 2012

Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington has some advice for voters when they go to the ballot box on Nov. 6.

When you get your sample ballot by mail, don’t throw it away. You may need it to wade your way through the series of choices.

Not only will voters have to decide on a president, but also a U.S. Senator, U.S. Rep., state senators and reps, county reps, local reps, and numerous resolutions.

All told, Harrington said voters should expect to see four pages -front and back – of ballot items. Only the first page will have the candidates.

“We encourage voters to mark their (sample) ballots and bring them with them,” Harrington said. “The only thing you can’t do is leave them there.”

The sample ballots that were sent before the primary were, as Harrington called them, “bed sheet” ballots, a generic ballot.

More thorough, November ballots will be sent to homes in time for early voting, Harrington said.

A good part of the first page will be presidential candidates. Although most would say there are only two that matter, eight others will be write-ins or from third parties.

Among the other races local voters will decide on in November will be the race for U.S. Senate between Republican Connie Mack and Democrat Bill Nelson, and the U.S. Dist. 19 race between Republican Trey Radel and Democrat Jim Roach and unaffiliated Brandon M. Smith.

In state races, Republican Dana Eagle will face Democrat Arvella M. Clare in the District 77 Representative race.

Voters will decide on three Board of County Commissioners races. Republican Cecil Pendergrass will face unaffiliated John W. Sawyer III and write-in candidate Neal Moore in District 2; GOP winner Larry Kiker will battle unaffiliated Charlie Whitehead in District 3; and District 5 has Republican Frank Mann against Matt Miller of the Independence Party of Florida.

Also on the November ballot will be a county commission race that did not see the primary. In District 1, Republican John E. Manning will face write-in candidate Gerard David Jr.

While the District 3 school board race was settled after Cathleen Morgan earned more than 50 percent of the vote, District 2 candidates Bill Chilmonik and incumbent Jeanne Dozier will have a run-off.

Republican Mike Scott will face Lee Bushong, a no-party affiliation candidate, and write-in candidate Christian Meister in sheriff’s race.

Harrington has said that with Lee County being a heavily Republican area, the winners of the GOP primaries have traditionally gone on to win the general election.

But she cited the 2010 Senate race in Alaska, when Lisa Murkowski won as a write-in candidate.

Indeed, the trend has been on the GOP, since all but one primary was Republican.

Registered Democrats and independents, however, outnumber registered Republicans in Lee County, meaning no race can be construed as a given.

“Republicans have been the trend in Lee County. There was no focus on the Democratic primary here,” Clare said. “But I can win. I’m focused, and I’m here running and fighting for the people in Cape Coral.”

The other pages will contain wording for nearly a dozen constitutional amendments and other items, the most important, perhaps, being whether to allow slot machines at the Naples Dog Track.

Harrington said people need to get out there and vote because the presidential race is expected to be tighter than ever – especially with Florida as a key battleground state.

“It’s going to be a flip of the coin and that scares me. I hope it won’t be like 2000 all over again,” Harrington said.

Harrington also said she was not happy with the 21 percent turnout for the primaries.

“It shocked me. We had school boards, judges, where were they?” Harrington said. “We had 80,000 out of 375,000? That’s disgusting.”