Amid additional security of vote-by-mail ballots this year and higher use of them due to the coronavirus pandemic, plus concerns of voter fraud voiced by President Donald Trump, Clay County’s supervisor of elections proactively released details of how the process worked during the August primary.
“Oftentimes, I am asked about the validity and security of vote-by-mail ballots and whether or not they are counted,” Chris Chambless said. “Upon reflection of recent months, it appears to me the recipe for a successful election is two parts proactiveness + three parts preparation + a pinch of patience!”
Chambless said he analyzed the 17,868 ballots received by mail by 7 p.m. Aug. 18 and found that 99.43% of the ballots were counted. He provided a breakdown of the reasons why 101 ballots that didn’t count were rejected by the canvassing board:
- 46 were rejected for signature differs *
- 24 were rejected for No signature *
- 19 rejected ballot received for wrong election
- 5 were rejected for already voted
- 3 were rejected due to voter moved from county
- 2 were rejected due to ballot postmarked after voter was deceased
- 2 rejected due to the spouse signing the affidavit with no vote-by-mail ballot request on file
* When a signature is absent or differs, the voter is contacted by every method available (email, phone, or U.S. mail) and given the opportunity to cure his or her signature until 5 p.m. on the second day following the election.
Chambless said stories about mail delivery issues circulating about the time of the primary election were not evident to him. In fact, the opposite was true.
“The postmasters from Green Cove Springs, Keystone Heights and Jacksonville (bulk mail unit) hand-delivered late-afternoon mail to our office prior to 7 p.m., including some pieces mailed on Election Day,” Chambless said.
In 2016, the Florida Legislature pushed the date that voters can request a ballot by mail to 10 days before each election to ensure enough time to have them returned by first-class mail by Election Day.
While the total number of vote-by-mail votes was small, more than half of those were because of signature issues and urged voters to follow directions when submitting their votes and following up to make sure they count.