DeLAND, Fla. – Elections workers in Volusia County spent much of Tuesday running vote-by-mail ballot envelopes through postage stamping machines and stacking them in boxes in preparation for the ballots to be delivered to voters’ homes.
While some Central Florida elections supervisors were able to get ballots to the post office before Hurricane Ian arrived last week, others intentionally waited for the bad weather to pass.
“We were scheduled to mail out our ballots last Thursday, on the 29th, and I said, ‘No, the storm is coming. We’re going to hold off,’” Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis said. “So we’re mailing out tomorrow.”
With many Central Florida neighborhoods flooded and hurricane debris blocking roads, postal workers may be unable to deliver some of those ballots to voters’ homes in the coming days.
“If you don’t have a mail receptacle or if you’re out of your home right now, please contact your local post office where your mail would come through normally. They will hold it for you and you can pick it up there,” Lewis said. “If for any reason [vote-by-mail ballots] can’t be delivered and you don’t have it held, it will be returned to us because they are not forwarded.”
Voters who have requested a mail ballot and do not receive one are encouraged to contact their local Supervisor of Elections office for help.
“Florida Statutes provide a method of having the ballot mailed to an address other than the address of residence,” said Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays. “That process requires a signed request from the voter with the alternate address on it. The request must include either the voter’s driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number.”
Although Marion County sustained little damage from Hurricane Ian, elections officials are reminding voters that there are multiple ways to cast a ballot in the 2022 general election.
“If a voter doesn’t use their vote-by-mail ballot, either it didn’t arrive or they choose not to vote that method, they can just go to an early voting site or an Election Day polling place and vote in person,” said Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox. “Our system automatically confirms the vote-by-mail ballot has not been returned, and then allows the in-person check-in.”
So far there are no reports that the hurricane damaged any early voting locations in Central Florida.
“We have nine early voting sites. They are good,” said Osceola County Supervisor of Elections Mary Jane Arrington. “Early voting will go on as planned.”
At least one Election Day polling location in Deltona was impacted by the storm, so Volusia County’s elections supervisor will soon begin searching for an alternative site.
“We’re going to be open for voting,” said Lewis. “Don’t you worry about that.”
The deadline to register to vote in the 2022 general election is Oct.11.
Vote-by-mail ballots can be requested through Oct. 29 and must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections office no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day Nov. 8.
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