Early voting begins in Lee and Collier counties

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If you plan to vote by mail during this election in Lee or Collier counties, you have until Saturday, the same day early voting begins in Southwest Florida, to request a mail-in ballot.

There are way more early voting sites in Southwest Florida this year, so it’s likely you’ll be casting your ballot at a different location than you’re used to. As the area’s population grows, voting officials are adding new polling locations to be able to handle the volume. They are also adding new precincts for Election Day, which is Aug. 23.

Some of the new early voting locations include the Collier County Government Services Center at Heritage Bay, located at 15450 Collier Blvd., and the South Regional Library, located at 8065 Lely Cultural Parkway in Lely Resort. And with more people voting, there is also a need for more workers to keep up with the demand.

“We’ve done a little bit of hiring internally, but also it is requiring us to hire new co-workers,” said Trish Robertson, public relations officer for the Collier County supervisor of elections. “We have been recruiting for those numbers. It’s always a challenge during the primary because we’re a very transient area; there’s a lot of people who have homes here and also have homes up north. So, sometimes it’s a little difficult.”

Lee County has already received more than 56,000 mail-in ballots. You can drop them off at stations or drop boxes throughout your county. Voting officials ask you to return them sooner rather than later, so they have enough time to process your ballot before Aug. 23.

If you vote in the primary election, the ballot includes a U.S. senate primary and various school board members and city council members.

“We’re really encouraging individuals to participate in this election,” Robertson said. “We tend to see a low turnout in primaries, which is unfortunate, because some of these races are going to be decided in the primary. So, races like that school board election and that judge’s race will more than likely be decided on our course unless there’s a runoff.”

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