Early voting under way — and encouraged
Due to Hurricane Ian, only 12 polling places will be open on Election Day
Early voting for the 2022 General Election is officially under way in Lee County — and voters are taking advantage of casting their ballots in advance of Nov. 8 or by mail.
Nearly 20% of registered voters have cast their ballots, as of Thursday afternoon.
Of the early votes tallied, 82,989 have come via vote-by-mail while 17,998 are from in-person early votes.
Ballots machines were ready to go on Monday, as 12 available voting sites opened around the county.
The Early Voting period has been extended to run through Election Day on Nov. 8. Local election officials said the most important thing voters should know is that due to the impact of Hurricane Ian, regular precincts in Lee County will be unavailable and so early voting is encouraged. Lee County’s 12 Early Voting sites will replace traditional precincts on Nov. 8.
“I strongly encourage voters to vote early and not to wait until Election Day!,” Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle said. “Precincts will not be open on Election Day. Voters can only vote at any Early Voting site open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 7 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Visit our website, lee.vote for the nearest Early Voting site.”
Early Voting hours through Nov. 7 are from 9 .m. to 6 p.m. Election Day hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“I encourage voters to mark their sample ballot and bring it with them to use as a guide when voting in person,” Doyle also advised.
Voters may find their customized Sample Ballot online at www.lee.vote/Election-Information/Sample-Ballots.
Voting locations include:
• Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library – 921 Southwest 39th Terrace, Cape Coral
• Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office – 1039 Southeast 9th Ave.
• Northwest Regional Library – 519 Chiquita Blvd. N., Cape Coral
• North Fort Myers Recreation Center – 2000 N. Recreation Parkway
• Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreation Center – 16706 Bass Road, Fort Myers
• Schandler Park Suarez Hall – 419 Royal Palm Park Road, Fort Myers
• Lee County Elections Center – 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers
• Fort Myers Regional Library – 1651 Lee St.
• Veterans Park Recreation Center- 55 Homestead Road S., Lehigh Acres
• East County Regional Library – 881 Gunnery Road N., Lehigh Acres
• Estero Recreation Center – 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero
• Lee County Elections Bonita Springs Branch – 25987 S. Tamiami Trail #105
Florida law requires voters to provide picture and signature identification when voting in person. For a list of acceptable forms of identification, visit www.lee.vote/Election-Information/Voting-ID-Requirements.
So, what does Doyle want voters in the county to know when it comes to the office and its goal to tally votes of all kinds (in person or by mail) accurately and timely?
“We are making voting as accessible as possible for the voters of Lee County in the wake of a natural disaster,” Doyle said. “Voters can be confident that the Nov. 8 General Election will be a safe, secure, and accurate election.”
The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is quickly approaching, as the deadline is Oct. 29. To request a ballot, visit lee.vote and find the vote-by-mail tab on the left-hand side.
Upcoming races, as listed on the General Election ballot, include:
• U.S. Senator:
Incumbent Marco Rubio (REP) takes on Val Demings (DEM), Dennis Misigoy (LPF), Steven B. Grant (NPA), Tuan TQ Nguyen (NPA), or write-in.
• Representative in Congress District 17
Incumbent Greg Steube (REP) is challenged by Andrea Doria Kale (DEM) and Theodore “Pink Tie” Murray (NPA).
• Representative in Congress District 19
Incumbent Byron Donalds (REP) is opposed by Cindy Banyai (DEM) and a wite-in.
• Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Incumbent Ron DeSantis and Jeanette Nunez (REP) face Charlie Crist and Karla Hernandez (DEM), Hector Roos and Jerry “Tub” Rorabaugh (LPF), and Carmen Jackie Gimenez and Kyle “KC” Gibson (NPA).
• Attorney General
Incumbent Ashley Moody (REP) is challenged by Aramis Ayala (DEM).
• Chief Financial Officer
Incumbent Jimmy Patronis (REP) faces off against Adam Hattersley (DEM).
• Commissioner of Agriculture
Wilton Simpson (REP) and Naomi Esther Blemur (DEM) are vying for the seat.
• State Senator District 27
Ben Albritton Jr. (REP) takes on Christopher Proia (DEM).
• State Senator District 33
Jonathan Martin (REP) faces a write-in.
• State Representative District 77
Tiffany Esposito (REP) faces off against Eric Engelhart (DEM).
• State Representative District 78
Jenna Persons-Mulicka (REP) takes on Howard Sapp (DEM).
• State Representative District 80
Adam Botana (REP) and Mitchel Schlayer (DEM) are vying for the seat
• Cape Coral City Council
Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan.
Incumbent John Gunter faces Tom Shadrach.
Cape Coral District 1
Carol Rae Culliton and Bill Steinke are seeking the seat
Cape Coral District 4
Incumbent Jennifer I. Nelson faces Patty L. Cummings.
Cape Coral District 6
Incumbent Keith Long faces Wayne Hecht
Cape Coral City Council members, including the mayor, are elected at-large, meaning everyone can cast a ballot regardless of the district in which they live.
• Lee County Board of County Commissioners: Districts 2, 4 and 5
Incumbent Commissioner Cecil L. Pendergrass (REP) faces a write-in in District 2.
Incumbent Republican District 4 Commissioner Brian Hamman (REP) faces a write-in.
Recently-appointed Mike Greenwell (REP) faces Matthew “Matt” Wood (DEM) and a write-in.
• Lee County School Board: Districts 1, 4 and 6
School board seats are non-partisan.
Kathy Fanny and Sam Fisher are running in District 1
Incumbent Debbie Jordan faces Dan Severson in District 4
Jada Langford Fleming and Denise Nystrom face-off in District 6, which is an at-large seat.
Cape Coral voters will also decide one referendum with voters countywide deciding another.
The ballot language for the city referendum, which would give Cape Coral City Council the authority to approve property tax exemptions to new and existing businesses that invest in the city and create jobs and meet criteria established by state statute, is:
City of Cape Coral Referendum
Providing City Council with the Authority to Grant Economic Development Ad Valorem Exemptions
Shall the City Council of the City of Cape Coral be authorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full‐time jobs in the City?
Yes – For authority to grant exemptions
No – Against authority to grant exemptions
(For more information see the related story, “Cape Coral seeks to add property tax exemptions to its economic development incentive offerings,” above.)
Voters countywide will decide whether to make Lee County’s superintendent of schools an elective, rather than appointed post.
The ballot language reads:
“Repealing Resolution Providing for an Appointed, Rather than an Elected, Superintendent of Schools
“Currently, by resolution of the Lee County School Board, the Superintendent of Schools for the Lee County School District is an appointed, rather than an elected, position. Shall Chapter 2022‐233, Laws of Florida, which repeals the aforesaid resolution and provides that the Superintendent of Schools shall no longer be appointed by the Lee County School Board, but rather shall be elected in a partisan election by vote of qualified electors residing in Lee County for a term of 4 years, beginning with the 2024 general election, become effective?”
There also are three proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot:
No. 1 Constitutional Amendment
Article VII, Section 4; Article XII, Section 42
Limitation on the Assessment of Real Property Used for Resident Purposes
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective January 1, 2023, to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit the consideration of any change or improvement made to real property used for residential purposes to improve the property’s resistance to flood damage in determining the assessed value of such property for ad valorem taxation purposes
No. 2 Constitutional Amendment
Article II, Section 5; Article XI, Sections 2 and 5
Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets at 20-year intervals and is scheduled to next convene in 2037, as a method of submitting proposed amendments or revisions to the State Constitution to electors of the state for approval. This amendment does not affect the ability to revise or amend the State Constitution through citizen initiative, constitutional convention, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, or legislative joint resolution.
No. 3 Constitutional Amendment
Article VII, Sections 6; Article XII
Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Specified Critical Public Services Workforce
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to grant an additional homestead tax exemption for nonschool levies of up to $50,000 of the assessed value of homestead property owned by classroom teaches, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and Florida National Guard members. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2023.
–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. The Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library is at 921 Southwest 39th Terrace, Cape Coral