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Early voting opens Saturday

By Staff | Mar 4, 2016

Early voting for the state’s Presidential Preference Primary will kick off this weekend.

Because Florida is a closed primary state, the election on March 15 will be a closed primary. This means voters must be registered as a Republican or Democrat to vote for a candidate in those parties. Voters registered as NPA, or No Party Affiliation, or with a minor party will not be eligible to vote.

These primaries help determine which candidates should be nominated at each party’s national convention to serve as the parties’ candidates in the general election, which is set for Nov. 8.

Early voting will open on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and run through March 12.

“That does include the Sunday in-between,” Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said. “There are 10 (polling) sites that will be available – they can go into any of the 10 places.”

She noted that while some candidates may no longer be running for president, none have officially submitted paperwork to withdraw their candidacy. Voters will see those names on their ballot.

“We don’t want them to think there’s something wrong with the ballot,” Harrington said.

Voters who want to request a mail ballot for the primary have until March 9 to do so.

“We’ve had over 90,000 that were requested,” she said.

As of Wednesday, about 52,000 of the ballots had been returned to the office.

“We are starting to process those now,” Harrington said.

Mail ballots must be received at the main office by 7 p.m. March 15 – Election Day.

Voters should use the envelope provided with their ballot and make sure to sign the envelope.

“We’ve gotten several hundred back that people forgot to sign,” she said.

The Lee County Elections Office covers the return postage.

On Election Day, voters will be required to visit their designated polling location. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and a photo signature identification will be required to cast a vote.

Voters who requested a mail ballot can vote in-person on Election Day if they wish. Harrington explained that they simply surrender their packet – the ballot and envelope – at their polling site.

“It’s going to expedite their check-in process,” she said.

Again, a photo signature identification will be required to vote.

For more information about elections, candidates, early voting, mail ballots or precinct locations, contact the Elections Office at (239) LEE-VOTE (533-8683) or visit: leeelections.com.