One after another, hundreds of Lee County voters showed up to drop off their mail-in ballots, wanting to make sure their votes count.
Election workers say they’ve never seen anything like it. They’ve never tried a drive-thru drop-off for ballots before, something that has proved to be very popular.
Sylvia Maynard drove from North Fort Myers to the elections office in downtown Fort Myers, just to watch her ballot go in the box.
“In and out,” she said.
Hundreds of others had the same idea Friday morning and the ones who spoke with WINK News were very happy with the option.
“A lot of people can’t go and stand in line to vote, and when my husband was sick, they changed my voting place, wanted me to go across the river to vote and all that. I said I’m not going to do it so then they gave me this option,” Maynard said.
“We’ll come over and drop them off rather than put them in the mail, not put a strain on the mail,” said Helen Appese of Cape Coral.
“Just to make sure we got our votes in for the person that we really want to be elected, that’s the important thing,” said Patsy Denman.
The safety and security of voting this way made it a popular place to be.
“We didn’t know it was going to be that easy. We brought umbrellas and everything else. Who knew. This is a great thing, really,” Appese said.
You’ll have new options to drop off your ballots starting Monday, Oct. 5.
Lee County will make dropboxes available outside the Cape Coral elections office at 1039 SE 9th Ave., the Bonita Springs Commons location at 25987 S. Tamiami Trail as well as the Lee County Elections Center at 13180 S Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers. The downtown Fort Myers elections office is at 2480 Thompson St., the corner of Fowler Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
All boxes are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The drive-thru option ends Oct. 19, but you can hand-deliver your ballot to any elections office (not your polling place) by 7 p.m. Nov. 3. A list of elections offices can be found here.
You can request a vote-by-mail ballot up to 10 days before the Nov. 3 election. Mail-in ballots must be returned and postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day. The elections office recommends ballots be mailed at least 10 days before Election Day in case there are delays at the post office.
For more information on voting by mail in Lee County, click here.
Ways to protect your vote
People lined up in Southwest Florida Friday to drop off their election ballots. Lee County voters are allowed to turn in their votes this way, and we didn’t hear a single negative word from voters we spoke to about the process.
Voters we spoke to loved the drive-thru service at Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office. Drive up; show them your ballot; drive off. That said, many voters did not go to drop of their ballot for the convenience of it.
“Given the fact there are well over 100 precinct locations just in Lee County alone, anything can happen,” said Jonathan Martin, the chairman of the Republican Party of Lee County. “The poll workers know what to do. The poll watchers make sure they’re doing that properly.”
“If they see something that is not consistent, then, their obligation is to point it out to the clerk,” said Henry Burden, a volunteer poll watcher with the Democratic Party of Lee County.
We were told poll watchers are not supposed to talk with voters or poll workers. The only communication allowed is with a poll clerk, alerting them if they see anything wrong.