Early voting going at a record clip; election day is Nov. 6
When looking at the numbers regarding voters who have cast their ballots early, one might think it was a presidential year instead of a mid-term.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the deadline to request a mail ballot, more than 170,000 ballots had been cast either by early voting at the polls or via mail ballot.
Lee County has 446,254 registered voters, meaning the turnout thus far is 38 percent, with 128,424 of those votes cast by mail.
With early voting continuing until Saturday at 6 p.m., mail-in ballots accepted until Election Day, and traditional election day voters waiting until Nov. 6, turnout is expected to be at levels not seen in midterms in ages.
“When we started getting the ballots by mail, they came in very quickly. We knew we would be close to the returns from the presidential election,” said Lee County Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle. “We have already received more than 130,000 and could receive another 25,000 back which would equal 2016 and be well above the midterm election of 2014.”
Doyle believes there could be 65 percent participation, with about 300,000 votes cast.
Lee County voters will help elect a U.S. Senator and governor as well as a state representative, school board members and a county commissioner.
Also on the ballot are two tax referendums.
Lee voters will decide whether the School District of Lee County will be able to impose its requested half-penny sales tax to help fund the construction and upkeep of schools.
Cape Coral voters only will decide whether the city of Cape Coral will be able to issue $60 million in General Obligation bonds to pay for new parks and improvements to existing parks.
Rob Spicker, school district spokesperson, said its role is to educate and not advocate, to get people well informed on the issue and to vote.
“The feeling here is that we hope people go out and vote and ask for them to research what’s behind the referendum,” Spicker said. “We want them to be educated on how we got here, where the money goes and what schools will get what.”
As for the parks GO Bond referendum, Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello doesn’t believe it is the driving force behind getting people to the polls as much as the issue of clean water.
“We wanted the residents to make the decision on what they want in their quality of life. Our parks master plan says we are deficient, and the ball is in their court,” Coviello said.
“People want to vote for candidates they believe will fix the water problem and make changes,” Coviello said. “The governor will appoint people to the South Florida Water Management Board and there are three appointments coming up in March and I believe the executive director can be replaced off the bat. We want to stay vigilant for our coastal communities.”
Early voting will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday at 10 locations including: The Cape Coral Elections Office, 1039 S.E. 9th Ave.; Cape Coral Lee County Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terr.; Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd., North; North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N. Recreation Way and the Lee County Elections Center at 13180 S. Cleveland Ave.
The polls will be open Election Day, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.