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Some primary ballots never made it to mailboxes, Seminole County election supervisor says

What do you do if your ballot doesn’t arrive?

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County Elections Supervisor Chris Anderson said when mail-in ballots were mailed-out to voters before the August primary election, not all voters received them.

“We had an unusually high number of ballots, voters who were needing replacements,” Anderson said. “We noticed we were replacing more ballots than we usually do in a primary and that can be attributed to voters discarding them or quite simply the ballots may not have arrived in time for them from the Postal Service.”

Anderson said he doesn’t know why the ballots weren’t received, only that “somehow, someway” they weren’t.

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“The Post Office assured me moving forward in the general election everything will be fine, that they’re going to work on what they need to work on to get better,” Anderson said.

But what if it happens again?

“I just want people to know that if they requested a ballot and they have not seen that ballot, it comes out 33 days before an election if they’re not seeing the ballot to give us a call so we can push out another one for them,” Anderson said. “We don’t want them to wait until it’s too late where they’re forced to have to go vote in person.”

All Central Florida elections supervisors said they are currently mailing or preparing to mail out ballots.

Florida law requires vote-by-mail ballots to be sent between the 40th day and 32nd day prior to an election, according to Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles.

Cowles said Orange County’s ballots will be mailed on Sept. 30, the 33rd day.

“So if your ballot doesn’t come back you can still go vote at an early voting site or on Election Day or get another ballot,” Cowles said. “So we tell people to take responsibility for their ballot. And also follow our tracker.”

News 6 has posted links to all elections supervisor’s sites in Central Florida in our 2020 Voter Guide so you can check to see if your ballot was received and processed by the elections office.

If your ballot doesn’t show up in your mailbox in the next couple of weeks, there’s a good chance there’s a problem.

You should have enough time before the election to request a new ballot from your elections supervisor, mail it back and have your vote be counted by Nov. 3.

If you’re running out of time, you can pick up a new ballot in person at your elections supervisor’s office or early-voting location, which is where you can also drop off your ballot if you don’t feel comfortable placing it in the mail.

And if all else fails, you can vote in person at any early-voting location in your county, or on election day at your precinct.

USPS released a statement to News 6 Tuesday evening regarding mail-in ballots:

"Our review of the Orlando area and the Seminole facility shows no delays.

"The United States Postal Service is committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process when public policy makers choose to utilize us as a part of their election system. We provide election officials with a secure, efficient and effective means to enable citizens to participate in elections.

"The Postal Service’s number one priority between now and Election Day is the secure, on-time delivery of the nation’s Election Mail. We employ a robust process to ensure proper handling of all Election Mail, including ballots. This includes close coordination and partnerships with election officials at the local and state levels. As we anticipate that many voters may choose to use the mail to participate in the upcoming elections due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are conducting and will continue to proactively conduct outreach with state and local election officials so that they can make informed decisions and educate the public about what they can expect when using the mail to vote. As part of these outreach efforts, we will discuss our delivery processes and will consult with election officials about how they can design their mailings in a manner that comports with postal regulations, improves mailpiece visibility, and ensures efficient processing and delivery.

"Voters are responsible for understanding their local jurisdiction’s rules and requirements for participating in an election. In jurisdictions that require eligible voters to request a ballot in order to receive one through the mail, we recommend that domestic, nonmilitary voters request their ballot as early as their jurisdiction allows. For domestic, non-military voters who choose to use the mail to return their completed ballot, the Postal Service recommends that, as a common-sense measure, such voters mail their completed ballots before Election Day and at least one week prior to their state’s deadline. Some states may recommend allowing even more time for mailing completed ballots. The Postal Service also recommends that voters explore the resources available from their local election officials for information about deadlines, rules, policies, and other requirements in their locality.

"The Postal Service maintains steady communications with mailers during events that require specific responses and advises residential customers and business mailers with regard to postal facility disruptions that may impact delivery in an affected area via its USPS Service Alerts webpage at: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/.

“The Postal Service has continued and will continue to serve its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic through the delivery of not only Election Mail, but also medicine, essential consumer staples, benefit checks, and important information. For information about how the Postal Service is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/covid-19/,” the statement read.


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