Lee County elections officials are urging people to vote early or by mail this year, as Hurricane Ian has affected many of the county’s voting precincts and long lines are expected on Election Day.
Lee County Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle says there is no doubt that polling places will be packed on Nov. 8, especially since the county is down to only 12 precincts. There were about 99 precincts before Hurricane Ian struck; now, many of those sites are unavailable. Doyle also says there is a possibility that polls will be open later than usual on Election Day.
Around 91,000 people have already voted in Lee County, with most casting ballots by mail. That amounts to nearly 18% of the county’s 518,035 eligible voters. Doyle says that even though the number of voting places has been greatly reduced, he doesn’t expect people not to vote. He says early voting is an efficient way to mitigate chaos on Election Day people need to vote early.
Election officials have an idea of how many voters they need to see in a day.
“We’ve had about an average of 4,500 voters per day in 12 sites,” Doyle said. “We need to have 12,000. If we have 12,000 voters on average, then we can handle Election Day.”
This year, people in Lee County people will be able to use Expressvote. Doyle says so far he’s been hearing good reviews on the technology from voters and poll workers. The county has ordered 50 more Expressvote machines to help move long lines faster.
Doyle says he does expect a big voter turnout this year, regardless of the limited locations where people can go to vote.
“We need people to vote early and not wait, because if they wait there will be lines on Election Day,” Doyle said. “Historically, typically, in a midterm, it’s a 60% range, so that’s almost 300,000 votes, and that’s kind of what we are expecting.”
There are 12 early voting locations in Lee County. Visit the county’s voting website for times and locations.