Absentee ballot encounters issues

Headline Goes Here

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's a new fallout over whether or not voters should be allowed to drop off absentee ballots at remote locations and polling sites outside of the election office.

Secretary of State Ken Dentzer says according to the law, the answer is no.

In a letter to 67 election supervisors last week, Dentzer writes, "Supervisors should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor's office, except for the purpose of having the absentee ballot canceled if the voter wants to vote in person."

If voters mail them, each one should be addressed to the supervisor of elections.

Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless says 90 percent of voters live in unincorporated areas of the county, so dropping off their ballot at remote locations has been convenient, and enforcement of this law on the books would hinder that.

"Well, clearly I believe that it will have an impact," Chambless said. "It was very well received, but now require people to drive, possibly a long distance, to a postal box prior to 7 p.m. on Election Day," Chambless said.

Senator Audrey Gibson is concerned the current law may keep some people from voting.

Channel 4 asked Gibson if he would want to do something to change this.

"To the extent that it's convenient for more rural counties and those with budget constraints. Perhaps we should look at how the statute is written. Or maybe we should look at how we are funding those election offices for the convenience of their constituents," Gibson said.

Gibson says elections supervisors have the authority to set up new office locations to help with convenience. But Duval County Elections Supervisor Jerry Holland says that would be too costly, and would require a new office to be open for at least one year before the election.

"It's really a matter of the law needs to change and meet the needs of the voters today," Holland said.

Holland said Duval County pays the postage for absentee voters, but voters in rural areas in St. Johns County and Clay County would be affected.

Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.