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Early voting period begins Saturday

By Staff | Aug 17, 2016

Voters looking to beat the Election Day lines can cast their ballot early starting Saturday.

Early voting for the Aug. 30 primary election will kick off this weekend and run through Saturday, Aug. 27. Ten polling sites throughout Lee County will be open each day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We will be doing early voting on Sunday,” Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said, noting that early voting will not be available on Sunday for the Nov. 8 general election.

“They can go to any one of the 10 sites,” she said.

All of the sites will be listed online at: http://www.lee.vote/.

“They do have to have a photo signature ID to vote,” Harrington said.

Florida is a closed primary state. Only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for their respective party candidates in a race, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.

However, if all of the candidates in a race have the same party affiliation and the winner will not face any opposition in the general election, then all registered voters can vote for any of the candidates.

In Lee County, the Supervisor of Elections Office processed nearly 9,000 party changes from June 1 through Aug. 4. Officials reported that 4,786 voters changed to Republican, 2,225 voters shifted over to Democrat and 1,624 voters changed to No Party Affiliation. The others were minor party changes.

“We saw a lot of them, right before the books closed, change from no party affiliation,” she said. “I think it’s because they realized it’s a closed primary state or they have certain candidates in mind.”

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, the newly-added Districts 6 and 7 will be on the ballot. They are at-large districts, meaning that all voters in Lee County can cast a ballot, like with the county commission.

Districts 2 and 3 will also be on the ballot. However, when voters approved in 2014 the board’s expansion from five to seven members, it turned the original five seats into single-member districts. Only voters in those districts can cast a ballot in those races; Districts 2 and 3 are in Fort Myers.

“There’s something on the ballot for everyone, regardless of party,” Harrington said.

“There’s still all of our non-partisan races, those school board races especially,” she said, adding that the Lee County Supervisor of Elections will be a non-partisan race for the first time this year.

As of Friday, approximately 308,584 had been requested countywide for the primary. Of those, an estimated 292,610 had been mailed out by the Elections Office, with about 71,392 returned.

The last day to request a mail ballot is Aug. 24.

“They don’t want to take a chance on waiting too long,” she said of requesting one.

They can be put in the mail – postage is covered – or dropped off at one of the drop boxes.

“We’ll have drop boxes at all of our offices,” Harrington said.

Mail ballots must be received at the main office by 7 p.m., Aug. 30 – Election Day.

“They’ve got to be sure to sign the back of the envelope,” she said. “If it’s not, we cannot open it.”

Voters who requested a mail ballot but decide to vote early or on Election Day can do so.

“They just have to take that (mail) ballot and surrender it at the polling location to vote on a regular ballot,” Harrington said, adding that if they do not have it, they will receive a provisional ballot.

On Election Day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We want to remind everybody to check the new voter cards we sent out,” she said.

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.

Anyone who still needs a change of address should avoid waiting until Election Day.

“It will just take more time to vote, so if they can do it earlier it would be better,” Harrington said.

Officials are not expecting long lines on Aug. 30.

“We have been working very hard to make sure we have plenty of equipment,” she said.

Voters can check social media for updates on the lines at the polling sites.

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 (non-partisan)

Leah Harwood

Archie B. Haywood Jr. – incumbent

Lee County School Board

District 6* (non-partisan)

Don H. Armstrong

Charles B. Dailey

Richard L. Dunmire

Jane Kuckel

District 7* (non-partisan)

Derrick Donnell

Guido A. Minaya

Cathleen Morgan

Chris Quackenbush

Betsy Vaughn

*Districts 6 and 7 are at-large districts. District 6 is a two-year term; District 7 is a four-year term.

Lee County Sheriff

(closed primary)

Stephanie H. Eller (Republican)

Mike Scott (Republican) – incumbent

Lee County

Supervisor of Elections

(non-partisan)

Tommy Doyle

Sharon L. Harrington – incumbent

James “Hef” Hefren

Carmen Salome

Dan Sinclair

State Senator

District 27 (closed primary)

Lizbeth Benacquisto (Republican)

Jason Maughan (Republican)

U.S. Representative

19th Congressional District (closed primary)

Dan Bongino (Republican)

Chauncey P. Goss (Republican)

Francis Rooney (Republican)

U.S. Senator

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

Summary:

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.