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Early voting opens Saturday

By Staff | Mar 5, 2020

As the country nears another presidential election, voters in Lee County can get out early and make their voices heard as to who they would like to see represent their party’s ticket come November.

Early voting begins this Saturday, March 7, through March 14. Registered voters can also drop off their Vote-by-Mail ballot at any of the early voting sites.

The deadline to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot is March 7 by 5 p.m.

“We strongly encourage our voters to vote by mail and our campaign has been successful,” said Vicki Collins, Lee County Elections Office spokesperson. “We began to pay the return postage in 2014 and the percentage of returned ballots has increased approximately 10 percent a year since then. In 2018, a little over 50 percent of the votes cast were done by mail.”

Early voting sites will be open daily, including Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (unless otherwise noted). Sites include:

* Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office 1039 SE 9th Avenue, Cape Coral, FL 33990 (closes 5 p.m.)

* Cape Coral-Lee County Library 921 SW 39th Terrace, Cape Coral, FL 33914

* Northwest Regional Library 519 Chiquita Boulevard N, Cape Coral, FL 33993

* North Fort Myers Recreation Center 2000 N Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers, FL 33903

* East County Regional Library 881 Gunnery Road N, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

* Estero Recreation Center 9200 Corkscrew Palms Boulevard, Estero, FL 33928

* Lee County Elections Center 13180 S Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33907 (closes 5 p.m.)

* Riverside Community Center 3061 E Riverside Dr. Fort Myers FL 33916

* Veterans Park Recreation Center 55 Homestead Road S, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936

* Lee County Elections Bonita Springs Branch Office Bonita Commons #105, 25987 S Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, FL 34134 (closes 5 p.m.)

Collins said that Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Tommy Doyle, is expecting a 50-60 percent turnout.

Florida is a closed primary state, meaning voters who are registered Republicans are eligible to vote for Republican candidates only and voters who are Democrats can vote for Democratic candidates only.

Florida, being the third largest state in the country, will have a major influence on the top of the ticket.

“The result of the Florida Presidential Preference Primary Election will have a major impact on the nationwide process because of it’s 248 Democratic delegates,” Collins said.

After “Super Tuesday,” the Democratic side of the ticket lost many candidates who dropped out due to lack of support. Those candidates included Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Bloomberg and most recently, Elizabeth Warren.

These names will still appear on your ballot during early voting despite their announcements.

“Once a presidential candidate filed to run in the Presidential Preference Primary in Florida, the deadline to withdraw was on December 9, 2019,” Collins said. “If the candidate did not withdraw timely, their name must remain on the ballot. A vote cast for any candidate appearing on the ballot will count as a vote for that candidate.”

Election day for the primary is March 17. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Florida law requires that voters provide picture and signature identification at the polls and prohibits a voter from voting in a precinct in which the voter does not reside.

For more information, visit www.Lee.Vote or call 239-533-8683.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj