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Voter registration deadline extended: Little local impact

By Staff | Oct 14, 2016



The decision Tuesday by The United States Northern District Court to extend the deadline for voter registration to Oct. 18 is not expected to have much of an impact on the Lee Elections Office, according to local officials.

All Lee County Elections Offices will accept applications for new voter registrations as well as changes to existing voter registrations in accordance with the court order.

Lee County residents can find a Florida voter registration application on lee.vote or they may register to vote in person Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at any their four locations.

* Main Office Constitutional Complex 2480 Thompson St. 3rd Floor, Fort Myers

* Bonita Springs Office Bonita Commons 25987 S. Tamiami Trail No. 105, Bonita Springs

* Cape Coral Office Lee County Government Center 1039 SE 9th Ave., Cape Coral

* Election Center 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers (Behind Robb & Stucky)

Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said she was happy the deadline was increased by a week, giving those who couldn’t register or were on the east coast during Hurricane Matthew a chance to register to vote in this year’s presidential election.

“We always get calls after the deadline from people who couldn’t get there to register or didn’t think about it. It allows people, especially on the east coast who were devastated by the hurricane, an opportunity,” Harrington said. “It’s not that big a thing. It doesn’t affect us that much except we don’t get our book-closing numbers that gives us our percentages by about a week. A couple hours of overtime and we’ll have it done.”

Harrington said the deadlines give them time to get the applications into the system, get their numbers into the tabulation system and make sure all is working properly.

The one-week extension will push the office a little bit, but not excessively.

“The extension means overtime, which is more money. More applications will come in than we thought we would have to process immediately. They have to get in for us to meet our deadline in getting the numbers to the state,” Harrington said. “It puts a push on us and it will result in overtime, but other than that, we’re good to go.”

Harrington said she would rather have extended registration than automatic or same-day registration, where jurisdictions need to verify the identity of the voter on the same day they’re casting a ballot.

“There’s no research done at the site to check and make sure they are valid. That kind of scares me,” Harrington said. “Automatic registration is going to put people on the voter rolls that have no interest in being registered, which will skew percentages and pad the numbers.”

Harrington’s point of interest will be next year when online registration begins in Lee County on Oct. 17.

“The people won’t need an application. They can do it online. That will be a big benefit for everyone,” Harrington said.

For more information about elections, visit www.lee.vote or call LEE VOTE (533-8683).