Early voting kicks off today
After months of watching campaign ads, hearing politician promises on TV and reading endorsements, the time to make a decision has arrived.
And if you’re work schedule makes it difficult to get to the polls on Nov. 6, don’t worry. Early voting kicks off today in Lee County.
And for the first time, you can even vote for president after church on Sunday.
Early voting takes place daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from now until next Saturday, Nov. 3, at the five main pooling sites in Lee County, according to Sharon Harrington, supervisor of elections.
“I’m encouraged that all those going to or from church will come by. They condensed the days with the same hours and the same five sites,” Harrington said.
One of the many advantages of early voting is that, unlike on Election Day, any voter can vote at any office, not just at the closest one or the one in your precinct.
“Your license will pull up your voting file. It tells you what precinct you’re in and prints your ballot,” Harrington said. “We have 32 different ballots and we don’t need to carry stacks of ballots anymore.”
With the rush to vote early, Harrington said the early voting centers could end up being as crowded or more so than your precinct on Election Day, especially at the beginning and end of the early voting period.
“There are lots of lines with early voting, and it’s become quieter on Election Day. The precincts in Cape Coral had lots of action, but most weren’t a problem,” Harrington said.
There could be more backups this year, Harrington said, because of the sheer size of the ballot.
Four pages, both sides “with amendments nobody likes to read,” Harrington said.
“I hope they see one of the 370,000 sample ballots we mailed out,” Harrington said. “We tell people to use the sample so you can prepare ahead of time on what the ballot will look like.”
In 2008, according to Lee County election statistics, 64,444 people voted early and 89,900 requested mail ballots. That number has already been surpassed this election year, with 94,552 mail ballots sent out as of Thursday, Harrington said, with more being requested.
More than two-thirds voted before the 2008 election came, Harrington said.
In 2008, 84 percent of eligible voters in Lee County cast ballots, second-highest in the state, Harrington said, and she’s hoping for the same in 2012.
Early voting centers
* 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
Things to Remember When Heading to the Polls:
Voters MUST present a PHOTO/SIGNATURE ID at early voting sites or at the polls on election day.
Acceptable forms of ID are:
* Valid Florida Driver’s License
* Florida ID card
* U.S. Passport
* Debit/Credit card with photo/signature
* Military ID
* Student ID
To avoid delays while voting, be sure to have updated your voter registration information prior to voting early or at your precinct on election day.