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Governor’s race, Amendment 2 draw voter attention

By Staff | Nov 4, 2014

For those who went to the polls in Lee County Tuesday, things couldn’t have gone much smoother.

And while voter turnout tallied at just over 52 percent, those who cast a ballot had a lot to say about the issues in which they were most interested.

The governor’s race was right at the top of people’s minds, as was Amendment 2, which proposed to legalize the use of medical marijuana. As expected, there were mixed reactions to both among voters they left the polling place in District 94 downtown.

Diana Muntz said her main concern was putting the right governor in office, which she said was Rick Scott. For Pat O’Rourke, the main issues were governor and term limits for county commissioners.

“The governor is the CEO, so that’s important. As for term limits, I’m worried because sometimes they make them so short you have no history,” O’Rourke said. “They aren’t in office long enough.”

Sherry Seibert was most interested in the governor’s race and Amendment 2, as were many others throughout the area.

“The governor’s race is most important with everything going on between them. As for medical marijuana, there are a lot of pros and cons, but for me the benefit is that it helps those who are in severe pain,” Seibert said.

Victoria Page said she also voted for medical marijuana, since it would create a new revenue stream for the state.

“They’re going to tax it, so since I pay taxes and we all pay taxes, we’re going to be helping ourselves. So I don’t understand why it shouldn’t be legalized,” Page said, adding that because her mom is a school teacher, she also voted for the county ordinance regarding adding two members to the school board.

“I didn’t know about the school board amendment. From what I hear, the school board has a lot of issues, so breaking it down more will help the teachers,” Page said.

Voter Kirsten Medina said she thought people would benefit from marijuana being legalized for medical use from a medical and financial standpoint. She also followed the land conservation vote (Amendment 1) very closely.

“Nature is important and having funds to conserve is important,” Medina said.

Sam William Wagner, going to the polls for the second time ever, also voted for designated funds for land conservation, but added he had to spend a long time thinking about it.

Wagner also said he voted to approve the governor’s ability to replace a judge (Amendment 3) if they reached retirement age or could no longer fulfill their obligations.

Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington and her batch of workers were at the polls by 6 a.m. for the 7 a.m. opening of polling places. Harrington said she spent a good chunk of the day canvassing ballots, where she found nearly 300 ballots that weren’t signed.

Other than that, things went about as well as can be expected.

“I don’t think it could have gone much better. Maybe a few jammed ballots, but nothing major,” Harrington said. “The polls have been slow, but steady.”

The voters really appreciated that, remembering all too well the nightmare that was 2012. This time, there was little or no wait.

“It’s a whole lot better. The last time it was wrapped all the way around the building. It was real quick this time,” Seibert said.

Harrington said of the 121,763 mail ballots sent out, 102,554 were returned, which was a record. Also, 52.13 percent of registered voters cast ballots, which falls in line with previous gubernatorial elections. In 2010, 53.28 percent voted, while 47.67 percent voted in 2006, according to statistics provided by Harrington’s office. Harrington said she anticipated 45 to 50 percent this go-around.