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Early voting opens Saturday

By Staff | Aug 29, 2013

Early voting for the Sept. 10 city council primary opens Saturday.

Early voting will take place Saturday, Aug. 31, and Tuesday, Sept. 3 to Saturday, Sept. 7. Elections offices will be 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 Sunday and Monday for Labor Day.

Early voting will take place at the Constitutional Complex at 2480 Thompson St. in Fort Myers on the 3rd floor, as well as the Cape Coral office at 1031 S.E. 9th Place, behind the Lee County Government Building.

Voters can still call for an absentee ballot, but the deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 4, said Sharon Harrington, supervisor of Lee County Elections.

In election day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and everyone should go to their normal precincts throughout town, said City Clerk Rebecca van Deutekom.

Van Duetekom warned that it’s important to have an updated registration card.

“Sometimes people will get the new card and not replace the old one. It’s amazing how often someone comes in with an outdated card,” Van Duetekom said.

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

The top two vote getters in each non-partisan race will advance to the general election in November.

The races in Districts 4 and 6 have only two candidates, and thus will be decided in the Nov. 5 general election as well.

In District 4, incumbent Chris Chulakes-Leetz faces Richard Leon, while incumbent Kevin McGrail face Rick Williams for the District 6 seat.

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.

Voter turnout for local primaries is traditionally light. In 2011, only 11.1 percent of registered voters cast ballots – 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.

Harrington said it’s important for local voters to understand the need to vote in something so seemingly small as a local primary.

“The first point of contact for someone to listen to your concerns is your councilman. The further you get from that central point, the more people and issues they have to deal with,” Harrington said. “Your councilman is probably down the street running over the same pothole.”

“There’s no excuse to not vote. Everyone has an opportunity to vote and you can request a ballot that comes to your home,” Van Duetekom said. “We make it so convenient.”

For more information you can log onto the Lee County Elections Website, www.leeelections.com or the city Website, capecoral.net