Here’s how Lake County is verifying mail-in ballots

Voters can track their ballot online

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake County supervisor of elections, Alan Hays, took us behind the scenes to show us exactly how their machine that validates signatures on vote by mail ballots works.

“We take it very very seriously, we wanna accept as many of them as we can, but we have to be prepared to defend that action of accepting that signature,” said Hays.

Hays tells News 6, the machine separates the ballots, pulling out everyone that has an issue and requires a trained staff member to look at it.

Hays said it will pull out any ballot that has an anomaly of some kind. He said that can include a signature rejection, a smear on the barcode, or even a ballot that may seem too thin, and lacking its contents.

Those ballots, Hays said, are then reviewed by two trained staff members, who look at eight significant points of interest to compare the signature on the envelope, with the one they have on file.

But if the signature cannot be validated, Hays said they then reach out to the voter.

He said every return envelope has a spot for the voter to provide contact information, like home phone, cell phone, and email address.

Hays said having the contact information is vital, as it allows his office to reach out to the voter rapidly to rectify the situation.

But if a voter has not included their contact information, Hays said they then have to contact them the old fashion way, by mail. Which he said means the voter will then have to mail back anything that’s needed.

“If that reconciliation does not occur by 5 p.m. on Thursday, after the election, we’re not allowed to count your ballot,” said Hays.

Hays also said every voter who chooses to vote by mail, can track their ballot online, to see if it has been received and if everything is complete.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.