Voter registration deadline approaches
Sanibel residents who want to cast a ballot in the August primary or who need to change their political party only have two weeks left to do so.
State law requires that Florida residents must be registered to vote or must make a party affiliation change 29 days before an election, Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington explained. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 30, so the deadline to register or change party is Aug. 1.
“That is the biggest one coming up right now,” she said.
Voter registration applications can be found online or filled out at any of the Lee County Elections offices. Party changes cannot be done by phone or online; mail or hand deliver the application.
“If they want to change their party, or it they’re not registered, they definitely need to do that,” Harrington said.
Florida is a closed primary state. That means if a Republican or a Democrat faces opposition in a primary race, it closes the races to other voters. The upcoming election here in Lee County will be a closed primary due to a number of no party affiliation or write-in candidates. Voters must be registered Republican to vote for Republicans or registered Democrat to vote for Democrats.
“As long as there is someone running against them or a write-in candidate, only people of that party can vote in that particular race,” she said.
For example, Republicans Mike Scott and Stephanie H. Eller are running for sheriff. When James Didio qualified to run with No Party Affiliation, he closed the race so now only Republicans can vote in the primary. All voters, however, will be able to cast a ballot in the general election on Nov. 4.
“There’s going to be a lot on the ballot in August, even if they’re not registered with a party,” Harrington said.
She explained that a lot of voters in Lee County were confused during the Presidential Preference Primary, which took place on March 15. It also was a closed primary, leaving many voters out.
“If anybody has any questions, they can give us a call,” Harrington said.
“Don’t wait until Election Day,” she added.
Regardless of party affiliation, all voters may cast a ballot in the non-partisan races, like Lee County School Board and Supervisor of Elections, as well as the proposed Constitutional amendment.
With the school board, Districts 1 through 5 are single-member districts.
“You have to reside in that district to vote in those particular races,” Harrington said.
Districts 2 and 3 are up for a vote and will be on the ballot.
The newly-added Districts 6 and 7 will also be on the ballot. However, they are at-large districts, meaning that all voters in Lee County can cast a ballot, like with the Lee County Commission.
“For (Districts) 6 and 7, everyone votes for those,” she said.
Temporary voter registration cards were sent out in March, but new ones are coming.
“They’re more permanent ones,” Harrington said.
“We’re going to be sending sample ballots out, as well,” she added. “They will be very generic.”
Mail ballots will also be going out in the next few weeks.
“The first or second week of August, they should start seeing those,” Harrington said.
As of Thursday, approximately 140,000 mail ballots had been requested.
“They still have time to request a ballot by mail,” she said.
The last day to request a mail ballot is Aug. 24.
“The sooner they get their request in the better,” Harrington said. “The Post Office has even said it’s going to take longer for local mail.”
Mail ballots must be received at the main office by 7 p.m. Aug. 30 – Election Day.
“We pay the postage,” she said.
Drop boxes will also be located at all of the branches, including the two in the Cape.
“They want to make sure they do put their signature on it,” Harrington said.
“If it’s not signed, we cannot open it,” she added.
If voters have a question or concern about the signature on file, they should contact the office.
“We can show them what their signature looks like,” Harrington said. “If they need to update their signature, it’s just a matter of filling out a form.”
Voters should also make sure to use the correct envelope.
“Be careful they are signing their own return envelope with their name on it, their information on it,” she said.
Early voting will take place on Aug. 20-27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We have 10 sites that will be available,” Harrington said. “They can do to any one of them.”
The early voting sites will be listed online.
On Election Day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters must vote at their designated polling precinct.
A photo signature identification will be required to vote in person, such as a valid driver’s license.
“They can vote with a provisional ballot if they don’t have it with them,” she said.
Those who requested a mail ballot must bring it with them.
“They need to surrender it when they go to the polling location,” Harrington said. “It has to be the whole packet with everything that came in it.”
The equipment has been doubled in all of the precincts.
“Hopefully, everything will go smoothly,” she said.
Harrington urged people to register to vote and to get out and vote.
“There’s a couple very importance races on the primary ballot,” she said. “It’s going to be very important for people to get out there and case a ballot.”
For more information about elections, candidates, early voting, mail ballots or precinct locations, contact the Lee County Elections Office at 239-LEE-VOTE (533-8683) or visit: http://www.lee.vote.
The Aug. 30 primary election ballot includes:
Lee County Commission
District 3 (closed primary)
Dick Anderson (Republican)
Larry Kiker (Republican) – incumbent
District 5 (closed primary)
Ken Dobson (Republican)
Frank Mann (Republican) – incumbent
Lee County Court Judge
County Judge Group 4
Archie B. Haywood Jr. – incumbent
Lee County School Board
Jeanne S. Dozier – incumbent
Melisa W. Giovannelli
Stephen F. Solak
Don H. Armstrong
Charles B. Dailey
Richard L. Dunmire
Guido A. Minaya
*Districts 6 and 7 are at-large countywide districts. District 6 will be a two-year term; District 7 will be a four-year term.
Lee County Sheriff (closed primary)
Stephanie H. Eller (Republican)
Mike Scott (Republican) – incumbent
Lee County Supervisor of Elections (non-partisan)
Sharon L. Harrington – incumbent
James “Hef” Hefren
District 27 (closed primary)
Lizbeth Benacquisto (Republican)
Jason Maughan (Republican)
19th Congressional District
Dan Bongino (Republican)
Chauncey P. Goss (Republican)
Francis Rooney (Republican)
Carlos Beruff (Republican)
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente (Democrat)
Alan Mark Grayson (Democrat)
Pam Keith (Democrat)
Reginald Luster (Democrat)
Patrick E. Murphy (Democrat)
Ernie Rivera (Republican)
Marco Rubio (Republican) – incumbent
Todd Wilcox (Republican)
Dwight Mark Anthony Young (Republican)
Also on the ballot:
No. 4 Constitutional Amendment
Article VII, Sections 3 and 4
Article XII, Section 34
Solar devices or renewable energy source devices; exemption from certain taxation and assessment
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes. This amendment takes effect Jan. 1, 2018, and expires on Dec. 31, 2037.