Droves of Lee County voters cast their ballots early
More than 240,000 ballots have been cast in Lee County in the ongoing early voting period as the country inches closer to the polarizing Nov. 3 General Election.
As of Monday morning, the voter turnout throughout the county topped 49% as lines formed outside of Early Voting election centers with those eager to see their ballot counted and mail ballots proved even more popular. Monday morning the elections office reported that 185,649 mail ballots had been received and 55,669 residents had voted in person.
“We are experiencing a high voter turnout in Early Voting and that is a good thing,” said Lee Elections spokesperson Vicki Collins. “Some of our Early Voting sites have lines with increased wait times due to the number of people turning out to vote and the sanitizing and social distancing policies we employ for the safety of our poll workers and voters.”
This is the first time in quite a while that Cape Coral’s election has lined up with the General Election, resulting in a much higher voter turnout here as well.
As of press time Thursday, 10,184 ballots were cast across the three Cape Coral Early Voting locations.
In 2017 Cape Coral Election, only 1,179 ballots were cast during the entire Early Voting period, according to Lee Elections archives.
Lee County Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle believes “it is important to have your voice heard and participate in the process of electing the leaders of your government, from the local level on up to the federal level.”
The Elections Office has already seen issues with the way voters are completing their ballots. Lee Elections officials say they are receiving many ballots where a voter has darkened the circle next to a candidate’s name and doing the same for a write-in candidate, effectively nullifying the vote.
“It is extremely important for voters to read and follow the instructions on the ballot when voting,” Collins said. “When a voter fills in an oval for their candidate and then fills in the oval for the write-in candidate, that is an overvote. When the voter places the ballot in the scanner, they will have the option to cast the ballot or return it and correct the overvote. Voters may ask a poll worker for assistance at any time.”
The office is also working hard to keep residents and poll workers safe at voting sites.
“Our poll workers are required to wear masks. We do not require voters to wear a mask, but as a simple courtesy to our poll workers, we are requesting our voters wear a mask,” Collins said. “We have them available for those who may not have one.”
Voters may choose to vote at any one of the Early Voting sites from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Saturday, Oct. 31. Florida election law requires voters to present a current and valid form of picture identification before voting.
Collins said the two locations with the least amount of voters are the Dr. Carrie Robinson Community Center and Riverside Community Center. Custom sample ballots are available on the Lee Election website. “We encourage our voters to print out their sample ballot, mark their selections, and bring them with them to vote,” Collins said.
Early Voting locations include:
• Cape Coral – Lee County Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace, Cape Coral
• Lee County Elections – Cape Coral Branch Office, 1039 S.E. 9th Ave., Cape Coral
• Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd., N, Cape Coral
• North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers
• East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres
• Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road, S., Lehigh Acres
• Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Center, 2990 Edison Ave., Fort Myers
• Lee County Elections Center, 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers
• Riverside Community Center, 3061 E. Riverside Drive, Fort Myers
• Estero Recreation Center, 92000 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero
• Lee County Elections Center – Bonita Springs Branch Office, 25987 S. Tamiami Trail #105, Bonita Springs
Races included in the 2020 General Election:
Fire Board of the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District
Seat 1: Ila Valcarcel (incumbent) and Jamie Brush DeLacey
Seat 2: Neil S. Price (incumbent), Ted Serrell and Nancy Short
Lee County Commission
County Commission District 1: Kevin Ruane, Republican. Kelsey Hotch-kiss, a write-in candidate has also qualified.
County Commission District 3: Ray Sandelli (in-cumbent) Republican and Todd James Truax, Demo-crat. Molly Hannigan has qualified as a write-in.
County Commission District 5: Frank Mann (in-cumbent) Republican and Juan Gonzalez, Democrat. Kayley McHugh has qualified as a write-in.
Lee County School Board
School board races are non-partisan and are elected by district with the exception of the at-large race, which is open to all voters regardless of party affiliation or the district in which they live.
District 2: Melisa Giovannelli (incumbent) and John F. “Jeff” McCullers.
District 3: Chris Patricca (incumbent) and Jacqueline Perez.
District 7, at large: Cathleen Morgan (incumbent) already elected in Primary.
Lee County Sheriff
Candidates for Lee County Sheriff, a constitutional office, are Carmine Marceno, (incumbent) Re-publican; Robert Neeld, Democrat; and Michael “Coach Ray” Qualls and Carmen McKinney, both of whom are running with no party affiliation.
Lee County Property Appraiser
Republican primary victor Matt Caldwell. Elaina Cosentino has qualified as a write-in candidate.
Lee County Mosquito Control
District 1: Incumbent Ed Brantley, Melissa Dortch and Taruas Anthony Pugh
District 3: Incumbent Mike Ellis and Jim O’Connell
District 5: Williams Patrick Burke and incumbent George “Pat” T. Mann Jr.
Lee Memorial Health System
Voters can select up to two candidates.
Seat 1: Incumbent Steve Brown, Therese Everly and Carol Ann Turiello
Seat 3: Sandy Cohen, incumbent David Collins, David H. Klein and Carol Anne Morris
Seat 5: Kathy Bridge-Liles, incumbent Jessica Carter Peer and Stephanie Lucinda Meyer