Collier voters report little confusion after precinct consolidation

Despite the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office's recent consolidation of voter precincts, most voters in the county appeared to have little trouble casting their ballots in Tuesday's election.

About 42 percent — 56,399 of 132,591 — eligible Collier voters either headed out to the polls or sent in absentee ballots. The number fell short of turnout for the 2008 presidential preference election, in which about 57 percent — 83,734 of 145,245 — of eligible voters took part, but came very close to predictions from the elections supervisor's office.

About 57 percent — 50,863 of 88,877 — of registered Collier Republicans voted in the presidential primary.

County election officials anticipated some confusion would follow their decision in December to reduce the number of precincts from 94 to 62 and polling sites from 82 to 60.

To address that, information cards with a map of the new precincts were sent to all registered voters. Jennifer Edwards, the elections supervisor, broadcast the plan in radio interviews.

"We did everything to make people aware of what was going on," said Tim Durham, Collier County chief deputy supervisor of elections.

He said he was "pleasantly surprised" that his office had received just one complaint about the change.

"That's kind of amazing," Durham said. "I know people generally don't like change, and we changed quite a bit."

Several voters interviewed as they left the polls Tuesday said they'd had little difficulty adjusting, though there were a few who admitted to having some trouble.

Joan Rothman, who with her husband, Frank, had been voting at the same site for the last 10 years they've lived in Naples, said she had a hard time finding the new site to which her precinct had been consolidated, and then went through the wrong door.

"By the time I got here, I was all 'Eeeee,'" she said. "And then after that, everything was smooth sailing."

In Lee County, where election officials are waiting until spring to consolidate voting locations, about 43 percent — 76,487 of 177,523 — of eligible voters participated in the election, surpassing expectations. About 45 percent — 73,327 of 161,487 — registered Republicans in Lee County voted.

The total turnout fell short of the turnout for the 2008 presidential preference primary by about 15 percent.

Many of those leaving the polls said they believe it's important take the time to vote in each election.

"It gives me a chance to say something about my government," said Lee Arnold of Bonita Springs.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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