JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As early voting opened Monday in Duval and surrounding Northeast Florida counties, many voters contacted News4Jax concerned that they had not yet received their sample ballots in the mail.
Mailed sample ballots are not a legal requirement, but they have traditionally been provided to Duval County voters.
Elise Perkins, an avid voter who never misses an election, said she contacted the Supervisor of Elections Office when she did not receive her sample ballot by Monday.
“I called and said, 'Where are our sample ballots?' I always get them a few weeks ahead of time to do research to know how to vote,” Perkins said. “If people are just waiting on that sample ballot, then they're not going to know where to go. And they might end up not voting.”
Perkins said she was told the delays caused by Hurricane Matthew also affected sample ballots being mailed out.
Elections Supervisor Mike Hogan told News4Jax that sample ballots will be going out soon, and registered voters should get them by next week.
Hurricane Matthew also held back the process of voter registration, which was extended one week, and that put a big crunch on Hogan's office. His staff worked 12- and 14-hour days to process over 8,000 documents in the extra week.
“The hurricane and extended deadline did put us back on some things, and we just had to re-prioritize,” Hogan said. “The drop will happen next week. It will be in ahead of time for the folks that are voting on Election Day or voting early next week. We will do anything we can to help anyone that needs a ballot. Even to distribute those if we have to go to the house.”
Voters who don't want to wait to receive their sample ballot in the mail before early voting can print a sample ballot online. Go to DuvalElections.com and click the Precinct Finder in the menu bar. After you input your address, your precinct will pop up, along with a link to your sample ballot. The link opens a printable ballot in a new window.
Hogan reminded voters that when they go to vote, they need to bring a valid photo ID and to check the back of their ballots.
“It's a two-sided ballot. Make sure you vote on both sides,” Hogan said.
Voters do not have to vote in every race for their ballot to count.
Early voting in Duval County continues until Sunday, Nov. 6. At most sites other than downtown, early voting hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.