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Early voting ‘steady;’ no lines at the polls

By Staff | Oct 23, 2014

Lee County voters only have another week to get to the polls and cast a ballot early.

Early voting for the Nov. 4 general election kicked off on Monday and will continue through Nov. 1. Voters can visit any of the 11 polling sites, located throughout Lee County, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“It’s been fairly steady,” Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said Thursday.

“There have not been any major lines anywhere,” she said.

Harrington noted that the early voting sites will be open on Sunday, as well.

“It’s available all weekend,” she said. “We just wanted to make sure that everybody had the opportunity to go ahead and vote.”

According to Harrington, her office is collecting data to see if keeping the early voting sites open and staffed the extra day is financially worth it. The special district election was the first time it did so.

“We’re trying it to see how well it works,” she said.

Those who choose to participate in early voting must provide a photo signature ID.

In addition to early voters, approximately 120,000 mail ballots were requested for the election.

“We’ve received about 70,000-plus back,” Harrington said.

Mail ballot must be received by the Lee County Elections Office by 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

“We’re getting close,” she said.

Drop-boxes are located at all of the office branches.

“Or they can just throw it back in the mail because the postage is already paid,” Harrington said.

Voters using a mail ballot must sign it and use their own provided envelope.

People who requested a mail ballot but do not use it should bring it with them when they vote.

The ballot needs to be handed over with the envelope – the entire package they received. Those who do not have their mail ballot can still vote, but it again will take more time to verify and process.

“They need to take the whole packet and surrender it,” she said. “That way we’ve got the ballot, we know it didn’t go anywhere. And it saves time when they get there to exchange it for a regular ballot.”

Voters with a local address can still request a mail ballot up until Wednesday.

As for the anticipated voter turnout, Harrington explained that Lee County normally records between 35 percent and 40 percent of its total registered voters during a gubernatorial election.

“I think we’re going to be ahead of that,” she said.

“It’s one of the hottest contested gubernatorial races in the United States,” Harrington added. “And there seems to be a lot of interest in the medical marijuana (amendment), as well.”

On Election Day, polling sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Those casting a ballot on Nov. 4 should have a photo signature ID card with them, but it is not necessary. Voters who do not have a photo identification will just use a provisional ballot.

On the ballot, voters will find federal and state races, as well as local races. There are state constitutional amendments, along with a county charter revision and a school board proposition.

The charter revision deals with setting consecutive terms for the Lee County Board of County Commissioners. It proposes limiting the number of four-year terms to no more than three.

“It means that any county commissioners can only run for three consecutive four-year terms,” Harrington said. “They can’t make a career out of it.”

“Some people think that’s a good idea because you’re getting fresh blood,” she said, noting that there are also cons to the proposed revision.

As for the school board proposition, it proposes increasing the board from five to seven. The current five seats would be elected from single-member districts, with the new seats elected countywide.

“It’s going to cost more money, for staff, supplies and pay, but it gives them two other voices (on the board),” Harrington said. “This will give them a little more variety in their voting process.”

She encouraged voters to do their research and think about the issues.

“Then vote for whatever they feel is going to suit them best in both cases,” Harrington said.

Voters can find a sample of their ballot, as well as locate their polling site, online.

For more information, call (239) LEE-VOTE (533-8683) or visit: www.leeelections.com.