LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Lee County voters requested a record 102,000 absentee ballots this election. About 27,000 still have not gotten theirs. Election day is just 4 days away, and there's less than 24 hours left to cast an early vote. But with long lines and absentee ballots still not arriving, some are worried they may not get to vote. The good news is, locals can still head to the polls, but those out of town are out of luck.
Catherine Michiels with the Democratic Party of Lee County says they're getting 20-30 calls a day from people who've not received absentee ballots. Some are out-of-state, forced to miss out on election day. Others have disabilities preventing them from waiting in line or traveling to the precincts.
"At this stage in the game, we are just trying to encourage all voters to get to the polls tomorrow or Tuesday," Michiels said. "Please vote. Any voters that need assistance, if we can help you, we will get you to the polls."
So, what's the holdup? Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington says it's not on their end. "We put them into the mail and whatever processes they have, of course, are totally out of our control," Harrington said. "We have to remember that we are not the only ones mailing ballots this time of of the year."
If you did not receive your absentee ballot, you can still vote in-person. Just tell a poll worker so they can verify it with the main office If you have small children or a condition that would make it difficult to stand in line, "They need to go up to the door and see either the gentleman or the lady in the vest," Harrington said. "These are poll worker deputies and they have passes that they will give those people so they can go ahead of the line."
Florida Gulf Coast University Professor of Public Affairs Dr. Peter Bergerson believes the intensity of this election may have fueled the increase in absentee requests as well as long waits for early voting.
"With early voting, there should perhaps have been more voting places," Bergerson said. "That would reduce the lines, so maybe on Tuesday, the lines won't be as long. Hopefully, everyone will vote."
We contacted the Lee County Republicans to see if they've had absentee ballot issues, but did not hear back. Early voting locations are open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Regular voting is on Tuesday. If you receive your absentee ballot between now and then, the latest you can turn it in is 7 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown Elections Office on Thompson Street.