Voters met with long lines on first day of early voting in Southwest Florida

Matthew Sieron, 4, clings to his mother, Leslie, before passing through the gantlet of campaign solicitors at the Collier County Library Headquarters where early voting began on Monday, Oct. 18. The line at this polling site, one of the most popular in the county, was nearly out the door on Monday morning.

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Matthew Sieron, 4, clings to his mother, Leslie, before passing through the gantlet of campaign solicitors at the Collier County Library Headquarters where early voting began on Monday, Oct. 18. The line at this polling site, one of the most popular in the county, was nearly out the door on Monday morning.

— There were plenty of reasons citizens turned out for early in Collier and Lee counties on Monday — but those hoping to avoid long lines were certainly disappointed at some of the polling stations.

The line at Collier County Library Headquarters in North Naples stretched across rows of book shelves, library catalog computers and nearly out of the door.

Florida’s early voting began Monday morning at 10 a.m. in Lee County locations and 10:30 a.m. in Collier. Election officials are expecting that this mid-term election will bring an above-average turnout.

Tim Durham, the chief election supervisor for Collier County, said he expects that more than 65 percent of registered voters could cast ballots, with most voters coming to the polls early.

For some voters on Monday, early voting was a matter of convenience.

Belva Hinthorn, North Naples, was waiting in line when the polls opened on Monday because it was her only scheduled day off of work.

Jack Brennan came out because he’s leaving town this week.

For others, like Leonard Brown of North Naples, early voting was a chance to finally act on political frustrations that have been piling up for years.

“I’m totally convinced we have to change the way the federal government works,” Brown said.

While a few voters expressed interest in local and state politics, like school district candidates and Amendment 4, which deals with comprehensive land use plans referendums, many voters, like Brown, were quick to talk national politics.

He said current government officials are leading the nation toward socialism, and he cast his ballot to halt that trend.

Hinthorn said she was voting on “changes in the changes” to health care reform.

Plenty of other voters expressed worries about government spending on local, state and federal levels.

Not all potential voters who came to the North Naples polling station at the Collier Library Headquarters stuck around long enough to vote, though. A few left because of long lines, vowing to come back later.

For Collier voters looking to avoid a wait at the Collier Library Headquarters, Durham suggests trying another location.

“That is an active site,” he said, and offered the county election headquarters near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Airport Pulling Road in East Naples as a faster alternative.

Voters looking to cast their ballot before the Nov. 2 election day can vote Mondays through Saturday at Collier and Lee county early voting stations until Oct. 30. Absentee ballot requests are available until Oct. 27.

For a full list of early voting poling sites, visit www.naplesnews.com/news/election.

Connect with Aaron Hale at http://www.naplesnews.com/staff/aaron-hale

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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