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Intersection: What You Need To Know About Voting By Mail

Orange County Sample Ballot via Talia Blake /WMFE
Orange County Sample Ballot via Talia Blake /WMFE

For the past year, the newsrooms of WMFE in Orlando and WUSF in Tampa have been covering this monumental presidential election from the I-4 corridor – one of the most important voting regions in the entire nation. We’re spending time focused on how the election affects YOUR  life. 

We’ve been sharing the facts about voting in the Sunshine state – and last Thursday- we brought together some experts to answer your questions for a facebook live show- The State We’re In.

To answer your questions about making sure your mail-in ballot counts, we spoke to Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus, Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley and WMFE reporter Joe Byrnes. 

On this episode of Intersection we listen back to that conversation.

Official vs. unofficial election observers

Last week President Donald Trump urged his supporters to go to the polls on election day and “watch very carefully.”

Corley said political parties and other groups often certify observers, but there are rules.

“Poll watchers are there legally and they can’t just show up as the president alluded to, or said. they have to be put in and there’s a deadline before election day or early voting. And they are an elector of the county, and we sign off and approve them. And they are given credentials.”

He said poll watchers are not allowed to interact with voters at the polls.

And if the observer – or anyone else – interferes with voting in or near a poll on election day, Corley says Sheriff’s deputies will remove them.

Floridians expected to vote by mail in record numbers.

A record number of Floridians are expected to use vote-by-mail for the general election, and most have seen the ballots show up in their mailbox in the past few days.

Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Julie Marcus says while there’s no need to rush and return them right away, there is an absolute deadline.

Her office – and election workers across the state – must have the ballots in their hands by 7 p.m. on November 3rd.

“And there are a lot of voters who want to wait until the Monday before an election or on election day itself, that’s fine,” said Marcus.

“Just make sure you are not a nano past the deadline ok, because we want to make sure those ballots count.”

She suggests people wanting to mail in the ballot send it at least a week early – October 27th.

Better, Marcus said, early voting sites in counties across Florida are serving as drop off locations.

The State We’re In is part of  America Amplified, a national reporting initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.