Floridians living abroad cast their ballots by fax

Election supervisors must send overseas ballots 45 days before Election Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Deployed members of the military and others living overseas are kicking off voting in Florida, which is poised to be a key battleground state in the November general election.

Unlike most people, these voters will be able to cast their ballots via fax.

On Friday, Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan’s office mailed out several thousand ballots to Floridians living abroad. As Hogan noted, election supervisors are required by law to send ballots to citizens overseas at least 45 days before Election Day.

Hogan estimated 4,000 to 5,000 ballots are being delivered this way, all of them dropped off by close of business Friday to make sure they arrive in plenty of time.

This process is considered a “soft opening” of sorts for Florida’s election season. Like Hogan, election supervisors throughout the state are able to track these ballots using a barcode placed on each envelope that ensures they reach their intended destinations.

“Military men and women and a lot of foreign service folks, I mean, they’re really tuned into this,” Hogan said. “[The president] is their boss, so they have a great deal of interest in this election.”

Only overseas residents are allowed to cast their ballots this way.

“If they’re military overseas, there’s a way that they can fax their ballot back,” Hogan said. “It goes to a secure network, it comes to us and then we have to duplicate that ballot because it’s not a real ballot — it’s just a picture. And we do that in the public side, and the canvassing board watches over that very closely.”

Election supervisors say there currently are no interruptions to overseas military and diplomatic mail. Ballots received from overseas can still be counted in the election up until Nov. 13, 10 days after Election Day. But that’s only in the event of an extremely close race.

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