Get Ready to Vote on March 15

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    The last day to qualify to be a candidate for Town Council is today – Friday, January 29th. As of press time on Thursday, six had done so – Tracey Gore, Suzanne Katt, Jack Green, Dan Andre, Bruce Butcher and Dennis Boback. Ber Stevenson has qualified as a write-in candidate. But it’s not only the two seats on Town Council that will be up for a vote on Tuesday, March 15th – voters will also be participating in the presidential primary (note: Registered voters who are NPA, No Party Affiliation, or are registered with a minor party, are not eligible to vote in the presidential primary. Anyone following a specific candidate and who wants to be able to cast a vote for that candidate needs to select the party affiliation of that candidate), as well as deciding on changes to the Town Charter – something that will affect our community much farther in the future than who sits on Town Council for the next three years.

    The point is, people need to get out and vote in order to make their voice heard. For those who plan ahead and for folks who will not be here on March 15th, there are a number of options available:

    Registration. Florida law requires that Florida residents must be registered to vote or make a party affiliation change 29 days before an election. Go to www.leeelections.com to find a Florida voter registration application. The deadline to register to vote or change your party for the March 15th election is February 16th. If you are already are a registered voter in Florida and just moved into Lee County, call LEE-VOTE (239-533-8683) to update your information.  Your address determines the different districts you live in; what you are eligible to vote on, and your voting location. Florida law requires that you vote in the precinct where you lay your head at night. It is a felony to vote in the wrong precinct.

    Early voting. Early Voting will begin Saturday, March 5th through Saturday, March 12th, (including Sunday March 6th) 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. There are ten Early Voting sites around Lee County, though none on the beach. To find one, visit the Lee County Supervisor of Elections’ website at www.leeelections.com.

    Vote by Mail Ballot. Absentee voters can request a vote by mail ballot by going to www.leeelections.com. Voters can also request one by calling (239) LEE VOTE (533-8683). Any registered voter in Lee County may request absentee ballots. Requests for absentee ballots may be submitted for single or multiple elections, or for all elections within a calendar year. Only the voter or a designated member of his or her immediate family or legal guardian can request an absentee ballot for the voter. Immediate family means the voter’s spouse, or the parent, child, grandparent, or sibling of the voter or of the voter’s spouse or legal guardian.

    To request an absentee ballot, contact the Absentee Department at 239-533-6919 or contact the Main Office by phone at 239-533-8683, or by fax at 239-533-6322 or         239-533-6913.

    For those who chose to cast their ballot in the traditional style, be aware there are now only two polling places on the island: Chapel By the Sea and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

    Want to see exactly what will be on the ballot? The Supervisor of Elections’ website is helpful for that, too. Go to the ‘Voters’ tab, scroll down to ‘What’s on my ballot?’ and choose your party affiliation. This tab is also useful for those who want to find out what precinct they should go to.

    Keri Hendry Weeg