LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Voting this year has been a historic and convenient event for residents living in and around Lakewood Ranch.
Like the primary elections in late-August, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall will be the site of early voting for the Nov. 4 general election, beginning Saturday. Lakewood Ranch is one of four county-wide locations where registered voters who desire to cast ballots in the upcoming Florida election can do so for eight days between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. through Nov. 1. Even though early voting turnout for the primary election in Manatee County was lower than expected -- roughly only 20 percent of county residents voted -- Lakewood Ranch had the second-highest primary voting return, both in-person and in absentee ballot, according to Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett.
"We really appreciate the
people of Lakewood Ranch giving us their facility. It's a win-win for both us. Finding locations is very difficult and the Lakewood Ranch people have gone out of their way to make us very comfortable," Bennett said.
Lakewood Ranch's No. 2 ranking in primary voting, behind only the supervisor of elections office in Bradenton, was not surprising, considering the rapid growth of the master-planned community in the past few years.
The Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority (IDA), managers of the community, conducted a primary election follow-up with Bennett to ensure that early voting would be on track for the general election.
"Generally speaking, everything went very smoothly," IDA executive director Eva Rey told IDA board members at a meeting last month.
So far, those who have requested vote by-mail ballots, also called absentee ballots, number 54,302; as of Thursday morning, 28,840 had been returned, Bennett said.
Voters who want to return vote by mail ballots may drop them either at the drop box, or at any early voting site as long as it is open, according to elections officials.
Early voting ends Nov. 1, and the early voting sites will all close at 7 p.m. that day.
The elections office will be closed on Sunday, Nov. 2, but will be open on Monday, Nov. 3, and on Election Day, Nov. 4.
On the eve of the election, Manatee County registered voters Thursday included 90,102 Republicans, 67,752 Democrats and 55,265 Others, totalling 213,119, according to the elections' office website.
Other early voting sites include: Bradenton Area Convention Center, One Haben Blvd., Palmetto; Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton; and the Supervisor of Elections Office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton.
Information, call the supervisor of elections office at 941-741-3823 or visit its website at votemanatee.com.