Republican voters will have the opportunity to choose which candidate they want to see run in the June 24 special election to fill the U.S. House District 19 seat that was left empty by the resignation of former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel.
Early voting for the primary kicks off on Saturday and runs through April 19 (including Palm Sunday), with polls open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington has increased the number of early voting centers from five to seven for the special primary, with even more come the general election.
"For the general election we're going to have 11 or 12. We only had five for the presidential election, so we're fixing the problem," Harrington said.
"We were going to increase after 2012 anyway, so if they have an issue of having to wait for any substantial time on Election Day, they're not stuck doing that," Harrington said.
Election Day for the primary is Tuesday, April 22, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at assigned precincts for registered Republican voters who live in District 19.
April 12 through April 19,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day
* Cape Coral Public Library, 921 Sw 39th Ter., Cape Coral
* Cape Coral-Elections Office, 1031 Se 9th Pl., #3, Cape Coral
* Terry Park, 3406 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers
* Lee County Elections Center, 13180 S. Cleveland Ave.,
* Rutenberg Parks & Rec Facility, 6490 South Pointe Blvd., Fort Myers
* East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Rd., Lehigh Acres
* Bonita Springs-Elections Office, 25987 S. Tamiami Trl., #105, Bonita Springs
Cape Coral voters can cast their early ballots at the public library at 921 SW 39th Terrace and at the elections office at 1031 S.E. 9th Place.
Harrington has also moved early voting from their main office in downtown Fort Myers to Terry Park to alleviate parking issues.
Since this is the first time there has been a special election like this and also because of what many have called negative campaigning, Harrington has no historical knowledge of what to expect.
"We hope for 30 to 40 percent of Republicans, but it's difficult to read people because there's so much bad stuff going on," Harrington said. "You wonder if people will vote because they're upset with what's going on and want to end it or they get fed up and don't vote at all."
Lizbeth Benacquisto, Curt Clawson, Michael Dreikhorn and Paige Kreegel will battle it out in what has been a very contentious Republican race.
So contentious in fact that candidate Paige Kreegel believes this will keep people home.
"Special elections typically have lower voter turnouts, as is. Add to that the fact that most voters are so turned off by all of the negative advertising and I believe that we will see an unprecedentedly low number of people showing up at the polls," Kreegel said in a statement via e-mail.
The winner of the primary will face Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Neatherwood as well as write-in candidate Timothy Rossano in the June 24 special election. Early voting will go from June 14-21, same times, same locations.
As soon as that election ends, another begins. Aug. 26 is the day of the regular primary election, with the general election set for Nov. 4.
The importance of voting is not lost on any of the candidates.
"Voting is the highest responsibility we have. We get the government we deserve and we have to educate ourselves on the candidates and the issues," Dreikhorn said.
Neither Benacquisto or Clawson could be reached for comment. Calls made Thursday were not immediately returned.