Advance primary voting ahead of the official Aug. 14 Election Day closes today.
Begun in 2002, advance voting became so popular it received a state mandate two years later. Early voting numbers now dwarf Election Day balloters.
Sharon Harrington, Lee County supervisor of elections, said mail-in ballots and early voting accounted for two-thirds of all 2008 votes.
Sharon Harrington, Lee County supervisor of elections
"The trend is building as more learn about it," Harrington said. "We live in a 'me' society. Everyone wants things set on their schedule and their choice."
Early voting closes at 6 p.m. today.
Early voters can vote at any office, not just the closest one to your home or the one in your precinct.
"You just bring your photo ID and they'll tell you your precinct and an on-demand printer will print it," said Joann Beaumont, administrative assistant to Harrington.
Harrington said mobile voting started in 2004 after Hurricane Charley, which struck three weeks before the primary and turned election centers in Charlotte County into rubble.
"It started a system where you could go wherever a tent was to vote," Harrington said. "Over the years we refined it to where there's a bar code on the certificate that you scan."
Voters in Republican and Democratic primaries must declare a party affiliation unless there is no candidate from another party, or a write-in candidate, on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot. Unaffiliated primary races include the board of education and judicial races.
The only Democratic primary race is for U.S. Senate. Historically, GOP primary dominance result in a November election, Harrington said, with opposition frequently from write-in candidates.
In the school board elections, the top two vote-getters will face off in November, unless the top vote getter receives more than 50 percent of the vote, Harrington said.
Only four judicial seats are up for grabs, with none having more than two candidates. Most judicial candidates ran unopposed.
The GOP lists 166,917 registered voters compared with 111,015 Democrats. The other 98,784 are unaffiliated.
Harrington said between 30 percent and 35 percent of voters usually turn out for a primary. Presidential election year turnouts generally are higher.
"There's something on the ballot for everyone. They'll have a big say in the school board races. We could have 45 percent turnout because of the number of items," Harrington said.