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Florida vote-by-mail ballots are being sent out: What you need to know

Potentially millions of ballots could hit the mail starting Thursday for the Nov. 3 general election in Florida.
Potentially millions of ballots could hit the mail starting Thursday for the Nov. 3 general election in Florida.

Potentially millions of ballots could hit the mail starting Thursday for the Nov. 3 general election in Florida.

County supervisors of elections are required to send out their first big batches of vote-by-mail ballots between Thursday and Oct. 1.

Over 143,000 had already been sent in Duval County by Friday.

In an interview with The Morning Show on Wednesday, Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan detailed the common mistakes voters make when filling in and returning their mail-in ballots -- and how to avoid them.

Elections offices here in Florida will send out mail-in ballots on Thursday. A record number, over 143,000, have been requested so far from the Duval county supervisor of election's office. Jennifer Waugh explains the most common mistakes voters make when filling them out--- errors that could prevent your vote from counting.
Elections offices here in Florida will send out mail-in ballots on Thursday. A record number, over 143,000, have been requested so far from the Duval county supervisor of election's office. Jennifer Waugh explains the most common mistakes voters make when filling them out--- errors that could prevent your vote from counting.

Hogan said ballots sent through the mail have to pass through a lot of hands: From the Supervisor of Elections Office, the U.S. Postal Service, to the voter’s home, and then back again.

Note: This year the U.S. Postal Service urges you to allow at least one week before Election Day to make sure your ballot gets delivered in time to count.

In Florida, the ballot needs to be received at the county’s election office at the same time the polls close on Election Day, 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

Hogan said at least 20 drop boxes will be set up around the city for those who want to deposit their mail-in ballot in person, rather than trying to send it back through the regular mail.

Once you’ve sent it, you can check online with the Supervisor’s office after a few days to see if it’s arrived. Ballots will start being processed next week as they arrive to make sure the signature matches what is on file. If it doesn’t you’ll be given a chance to correct it before the election.

The ballots will be tabulated as they come in but the results won’t be released until election day.

Any registered Florida voter can request a ballot online, by mail or telephone from your county’s supervisor of elections office until 5 p.m. on Oct. 24. After that, you can still pick one up at your county supervisor of elections office.

RELATED: With record number planning to vote by mail: What you need to know

Floridians have until Oct. 5 to register to vote.

Florida requires voters to request mail-in ballots before elections officials can provide them. The state adopted its “no-excuse” absentee-voting system in 2002, and in 2016 switched the name from “absentee” to “vote-by-mail.”

Who’s requesting mail-in ballots?

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said in a news release that his office will put more than 355,000 ballots in the mail on Thursday. Hillsborough County has already sent out more than 6,800 ballots to overseas and military voters.

RELATED: How voting early, by mail or absentee varies across America

Overall, more than 4.7 million vote-by-mail ballots have been requested by Florida’s 13.89 million voters.

As of Wednesday, Democrats statewide had requested 2.18 million ballots to 1.48 million sought by Republicans. Another 990,341 had been requested by voters without party affiliations, and 55,640 were set to be sent to voters registered with third parties.

Ballots go out earlier to overseas voters and military personnel, and 2,136 had been returned Wednesday.

Democrats had returned 1,190, Republicans had returned 526, and unaffiliated voters had returned 384. Another 36 had been completed by third-party voters.

In 2016, when 3.47 million vote-by-mail ballots were sent out, Republicans returned 1.08 million of the ballots and Democrats returned 1.03 million, as President Donald Trump won the state by 112,911 overall votes.

Florida Republicans have been working to counter Trump’s attacks this year on voting by mail in other parts of the country. With some states sending absentee-ballot applications to all registered voters and expanding election laws to allow voters to cast ballots from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has decried the possibility of election fraud.

Trump, however, has said Florida -- a crucial battleground state -- is an exemplar of how mail-in voting should be conducted.


About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.