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Early voting opens Saturday

June 12, 2014
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Early voting kicks off Saturday in Lee and Collier counties for the special general election.

The race for Florida's 19th Congressional District is on the ballot along with, in parts of North Fort Myers, a referendum for the Bayshore Fire Protection and Rescue Service District.

Three partisan and one write-in candidate are vying for the U.S. House seat, which was vacated in late January by former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel.

The special general election is set for June 24, with eligible voters able to cast an early ballot up through June 21. Residents living within the 19th Congressional District can vote on the race.

"It's not closed, like the primary. This is open to everybody," Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said.

A total of 352,127 voters reside in District 19, according to officials.

Fact Box

Running for the District 19 seat are Republican Curt Clawson and Democrat April Freeman, as well as Ray Netherwood, with the Libertarian Party of Florida, and write-in candidate Timothy J. Rossano.


Polling locations for early voting

* Bonita Springs Elections Office, 25987 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 105, Bonita Springs

* Cape Coral Elections Office, 1031 S.E. Ninth Place, Suite 3

* Cape Coral Public Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

* East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres

* Lee County Elections Center, 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers

* Rutenberg Parks and Recreation Facility, 6490 South Pointe Blvd., Fort Myers

* Terry Park, 3406 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers

Source: Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office

Early voting will take place between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at several polling sites in Lee County.

"We have seven locations, which are listed on our website," she said.

Voters can also call the office at (239) LEE-VOTE (533-8683) for the list of locations.

Running for the District 19 seat are Republican Curt Clawson and Democrat April Freeman, as well as Ray Netherwood, with the Libertarian Party of Florida, and write-in candidate Timothy J. Rossano.

Back in April, Clawson beat out fellow Republicans Lizbeth Benacquisto, Paige Kreegel and Michael John Dreikorn in the special primary election to win the party's nomination and move forward.

The primary election was only open to voters registered as Republican.

Harrington noted that the general election will have "something for everybody," party-wise.

"We're kind of hoping, maybe, we'll get into the 40 (percent) to 50 percent range," she said of the anticipated voter turnout. "Right now, we're doing extremely well with our mail-in ballots."

As of Thursday, 86,509 mail-in ballots had been requested, of which 51,407 had been returned.

"I think if the enthusiasm continues for this election, we should have a fairly decent turnout, considering that it is a special election," she said.

Wednesday is the final day that the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office can mail ballots to voters within the district, which encompasses much of Lee and parts of Collier County. To request a mail-in ballot before the deadline, contact the office.

On June 24, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"It'll be run just like any other countywide election," Harrington said.

Voters must visit their regular polling site to cast a ballot.

"There are some temporary polling changes," she said. "Some polling locations, because of it being a special election, were not available on such short notice."

Call the office or visit the website online to verify any location changes.

Voters who have moved but not changed their address yet should contact the office.

"It really saves a lot of time at the polls if they would call the office a day or two ahead," Harrington said. "That way when they show up at the polls, they'll have the most current information."

Asked about previous special elections, she could not recall any in over two decades.

"If there was one, it's been a long time," Harrington said.

She noted that a replacement is usually appointed to vacated seats.

"Because it is a congressional seat, they have to fill it," Harrington said.

She urged eligible voters to get out and cast a ballot.

"Every vote counts, and we count every vote," Harrington said.

Radel resigned following an arrest for possession of cocaine in Washington, D.C. The winner of the race will serve out the remainder of his two-year term, which runs through the end of the year.

District 19 covers the Cape, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Bonita Springs and Naples.

For information, visit the Lee County Supervisor of Elections at:



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