Why does Cape Coral only have one early voting location?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CAPE CORAL - With many early voters finding themselves stuck in line, sometimes for hours, some are wondering why there aren't more locations to make it quicker and easier to vote.
The lines at many polling places aren't getting shorter with two days left of early voting. In Cape Coral, some voters want to know why the largest city in southwest Florida, and one of the largest cities in the state, only has one early voting polling place.
"We've been waiting in line over an hour and a half now," said one man. "It's a bunch of bull."
Fox 4 saw people reading, handing out water and bringing lawn chairs to sit on. With lines stretching around the building, some at the front of the line say they had been waiting for more than two hours.
"This looks like Black Friday, the first day of Christmas shopping," said voter Mike Rosentrater. "Look at this."
Rosentrater hasn't cast his ballot yet because he says he doesn't want to spend all day waiting in line.
"This line is crazy," said Rosentrater. "Why don't you ease up these people? Why don't you have 5, 6, 7, 10 polling offices? 157,000 people to one place that's crazy."
Fox 4 took Rosentrater's questions to the Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington.
"Why not have more polling locations to reduce some of these wait times that we're seeing?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Well one of the reasons is we are mandated by law," said Harrington, "to only have them in certain locations."
Under state law, Harrington says early voting can only happen at:
- Main election offices (Cape Coral doesn't have one)
- Branch offices that have been open for at least a year
- City Hall
- Public libraries
"We don't try to inundate the public libraries," said Harrington, "because they're still trying to do business all day long."
There is a polling place at a library in Lehigh Acres because there aren't any other suitable locations, according to Harrington.
As for Cape Coral City Hall, she says the facility isn't big enough to handle voting.
Still, with the popularity of early voting, Harrington says she will consider looking into opening more locations during the next election.
"It's something we will look at," said Harrington. "We will evaluate definitely after the election's over."
"So, possibly the Cape could see more polling locations?," asked Grant.
"It's very possible," said Harrington. "Hopefully, we can get the County Commission to fund an extra site for the next election."
It costs taxpayers $40,000 to keep a polling place open for the eight day early voting period, according to Harrington. She says it costs about $5,000 a day to keep a location staffed and running.
But for Rosentrater, talk about the next election isn't helping him now.
"It's just ludicrous what is going on here," said Rosentrater.