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Early voting starts Monday

By CJ HADDAD - | Oct 15, 2020

Voting machines throughout the state of Florida are warming in preparation as early voting in Florida for the 2020 General Election begins Monday.

From Oct. 19 through Oct. 31, local residents can submit their ballots at 11 different sites across Lee County prior to the Nov. 3 General Election.

In a release, Lee County Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle said he wants residents “to vote safe and vote early to avoid large crowds in the November General Election!”

Early voting times at each of the locations are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Florida law requires voters to provide picture and signature identification when voting in person. Picture identification cannot be expired. If your signature identification does not contain your signature, an additional identification with your signature is required. Any form of signature identification is acceptable. Signature identification does not need to be current.

“We’re hoping to promote early voting so that people take advantage of it because of the simple fact that they’ll have 13 days to be able to vote at any one of the 11 locations,” said Lee County Elections Office spokesperson Vicki Collins. “We’re hoping for the people who want to vote in person that they do it during early voting — for their safety and their convince.”

With current public health standards in place at polling locations, Lee Elections officials said the voting process might not be as swift as in prior years. They hope residents use the 13-day early voting period to space out the amount of people coming in at once, namely on the Nov. 3 deadline.

On Thursday, the by County Canvassing Board administered a logic and accuracy test on machines that will be used both during early voting and on Election Day to make sure ballots are being correctly decoded and counted.

All poll workers are required to wear masks and will keep voting areas sanitized throughout each day. The elections office is requesting those who vote in person to wear a mask but masks are not required.

“It’s a simple gesture for them to thank their poll workers who are brave enough to work and serve their community during this time,” Collins said.

Completed vote-by-mail ballots can also be dropped of at every polling location in a specified, secured drop-box outside of the voting area up until Election Day.

Races in the 2020 General Election include:

U.S. House of Representatives D-19

The District 19 U.S. House of Representatives race comes down to Republican nominee Byron Donalds and Democratic choice Cindy Lyn Banyai.

Donalds earned the nomination in a crowded GOP primary, edging out State Rep. Dane Eagle in a closely contested race.

Banyai defeated David Holden to earn her party’s nomination.

Patrick Post has qualified for the General Election as a write-in candidate.

State Senate District 27

The Florida Senate District 27 race features Republican nominee Ray Rodrigues against unopposed Democrat Rachel Brown.

Rodrigues defeated Heather Fitzenhagen to earn his party’s nomination.

State House District 77

The District 77 State Representative race sees Republican choice Mike Giallombardo taking on Democrat Joshua Lopez.

Giallombardo defeated Bryan Blackwell in the GOP Primary Election.

Cape Coral City Council

City of Cape Coral municipal elections are nonpartisan with all seats elected citywide — all voters in the city may vote in all of the city council contests that will appear on the General Election ballot, regardless of party affiliation or the district in which they live.

The races are:

District 2: Bryan DeLaHunt and Dan Sheppard

District 3: Chris Cammarota and Tom Hayden

District 5: Louis Navarra and Robert Welsh

District 7: Jessica Cosden, (incumbent) and Derrick Donnell

Lee County Commission

County Commission District 1: Kevin Ruane, Republican. Kelsey Hotchkiss, a write-in candidate has also qualified.

County Commission District 3: Ray Sandelli (incumbent) Republican and Todd James Truax, Democrat. Molly Hannigan has qualified as a write-in.

County Commission District 5: Frank Mann (incumbent) 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) Republican; 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

In addition, the following constitutional amendments will be up for a vote:


No. 1 — Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least 18 years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.

No. 2 — Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

Raises minimum wage to $10 per hour effective Sept. 30, 2021. Each Sept. 30 thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on Sept. 30, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting Sept. 30, 2027.

No. 3 — All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective Jan. 1, 2024.

No. 4 — Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.

No. 5 — Limitations on Homestead Assessments

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective date Jan. 1, 2021, to increase, from two years to three years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.

No. 6 — Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran’s surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.

For more information, visit www.lee.vote.

Early voting locations are:

* Cape Coral – Lee County Library, 921 SW 39th Terrace

* Lee County Elections – Cape Coral Branch Office, 1039 SE 9th Ave.

* Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd. N, Cape Coral

* North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N Recreation Parkway

* 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

— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj