JACKSONVILLE, FLa. – Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan said he is expecting huge crowds on Monday when the early voting period opens in Jacksonville for the 2020 General Election.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it’s expected many will vote early to avoid long lines on Election Day. Hogan said masks are encouraged but not required at voting precincts, and he’s taken extra steps to ensure precincts are thoroughly cleaned.
“We’re prepared, totally prepared," Hogan said Friday in an interview on “The Morning Show.” “We have one person in each precinct that does nothing but work the sanitation areas and that means we’re going to be cleaning the contact surfaces all during the day.”
Hogan said typically the busiest days at early voting locations are Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. To reduce your wait time, he suggested casting your ballot on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Early voting locations are open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 19 until Nov. 1.
The Supervisor’s Office is preparing for a very contentious election. Hogan said they hope the process will go smoothly with early voting and on Election Day. But they are also preparing for what will happen when the votes are counted and ballots are potentially contested.
Remember the infamous hanging chad debacle in 2000 when rooms were crowded with people watching and questioning the outcome? With the ongoing pandemic, the elections office wants to avoid a similar situation and has already sent a list of rules to party officials about Canvassing Board observers.
The letter said all observers will be required to wear a face mask or face shield and will have their temperatures taken before they enter the room. The seats will be arranged for social distancing, which means space is limited.
“If more people wish to observe than seats are available, the observers may be asked to observe for a limited time to accommodate all persons desiring to observe,” the letter said. “Designated party/candidate representatives shall have priority seating; however they may be limited to one per party/candidate if there are more observers than space is available.”
To read the full list of restrictions, click here.
Mail-in ballot boxes
The Duval County elections' office has already received 70,785 mail-in ballots. Hogan said 514 of them have been flagged and the voters have been contacted about an issue with their ballot. Of those, 166 have been corrected and returned to his office.
Boxes specially designed for mail-in ballots will be placed at all 20 early voting locations in Duval County starting at 7 a.m. Monday.
“There will be two folks guarding every box, and they are plastered with stickers," Hogan said. "You’ll know them when you see them.”
Five of those early voting locations will offer drive-through service as well, Hogan said. The boxes will be clearly marked outside the voting location or inside, depending on the site.
Mail-in ballot drop boxes will only be available during early voting. After that time, you can either mail your ballot or drop it off at the Supervisor of Elections Office in downtown Jacksonville.
If you registered to vote by mail but would like to vote in person, you can.
“A lot of folks have asked for mail ballots just as an emergency,” Hogan said. “We’ve always allowed a person that has received a mail ballot to vote early or on Election Day. Our system is smart. It’ll only count the first ballot in."
In addition, Hogan said, through a partnership with the Jacksonville Jaguars, voters will be able to drop off their mail-in ballot at Lot J during the last week of early voting, which is the week of Oct. 26.