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Voter books to ‘close’: Registration deadline is Monday

By Staff | Aug 8, 2013

If you plan to vote in the Sept. 10 city primaries and aren’t registered, you have until Monday at 5 p.m. to do so.

That’s the deadline for new voters to register, which is 29 days before the primary date, according to the Lee County Supervisor of Elections office.

Those who are eligible to vote in Florida can update after Monday and still be eligible to vote for the primary. New voters have until the end of business on Monday to register.

The hope is that more people go to the polls for this primary than two years ago, when just 11.1 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the city election.

This primary election, six candidates running for the mayor’s seat – Daniel “Dan” Ashby, Alan “AJ” Boyd, David P. Carr, Vincent A. Cummings, Marni Lin Sawicki and incumbent John J. Sullivan -?and four running for District 1 – James “Jim” Burch, Steven L. Golub, David R. Headd and Graham Madison Morris.

District 1 Councilmember Marty McClain is not running for reelection.

The top two vote getters in these races will advance to the general election in November, which also will feature the District 4 and 6 council seats.

Running in District 4 are incumbent Chris N. Chulakes-Leetz and Richard Leon.

Running in District 6 are incumbent Kevin M. McGrail and Richard “Rick” Williams.

Every registered voter gets to vote in every race on the ballot in both the primary and the general election: City council races are non-partisan, and all council members are elected citywide although officials must live in the district they represent.

This year’s early numbers are slightly more promising. There are 101,469 active voters and 4,606 inactive voters, according to numbers provided by Jo Ann Beaumont, administrative assistant to Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington, who was at a conference and unavailable for comment.

“Inactive voters haven’t voted in the last two general elections and haven’t done anything to keep it active, such as move,” Beaumont said. “If you call in on Monday, you become active again.”

City Clerk Rebecca van Deutekom said numbers have been paltry since after 2000, which was the last year the city held elections during even-numbered years.

No longer buoyed by state and national elections, it has become tougher to get people to the polls for local elections.

Van Deutekom said the city hopes to add another layer of advertising this time around to grab a few more voters.

“Any time there’s an opportunity to vote, people should take advantage,” van Deutekom said. “We’re going to run ads, get the word out about early voting. There will be an ad in ‘On The Move.’ We’re going to see if that affects numbers at all.”

In 2011, only 10,355 out of 92,995 eligible voters cast a ballot, with 2,908 voting early and 1,242 casting absentee ballots.

That number improved only slightly in the general election, with 16.5 percent voting, or 20,149 out of 122,073 registered. Of those, 4,281 were early voters and 2,874 of the absentee variety.

Early voting will take place from Saturday, Aug. 31 to Saturday, Sept. 7. Offices are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Offices will be closed Monday for Labor Day.