Permission denied to use Lakewood Ranch Town Hall for early voting

dgraham@bradenton.comMarch 19, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- There's no room for early voters at the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

A request from Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett to utilize the government building for early voting was unanimously turned down by the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority Tuesday.

Currently early voting is available only at the Supervisor of Elections Office at 600 301 Blvd. W, Suite 108, Bradenton, near DeSoto Mall.

"Disruption to the operations of town hall activities and business," was the main reason given by vice-chairwoman Jean Stewart, who represents District 1.

According to Eva Rey, Lakewood Ranch executive director, Bennett needs a government building with 1,000 square feet of open space that will be available for eight days during early voting. "There are no early voting locations on the east side of the county so he's looking for locations."

Nancy Johnson, IDA supervisor representing District 4, said, "Can't they do it in a school? Is this every two years?

Rey explained that early voting could happen as often as any election occurs, not just with state or national elections. "His point is that people on the east side of the county want to do early voting but now they have to drive into Bradenton."

"We're too small a facility. If we had 10 rooms for clubs, it would be different," Johnson said. "How about the new maintenance facility when it is finished?"

The space needed would be about the size of two of the Town Hall's salons, Rey said.

"The largest room in the new maintenance building is the conference room and it would not be big enough," said Ryan Heise, director of operations.

Asked for his opinion, IDA treasurer David Emison, representing District 5, said, "They should always vote absentee ballot. That's what I did."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024 or tweet@DeeGrahamBH

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