TAMPA (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is looking into a new Florida law that impacts every single person voting by mail.
Voters are being asked to put personal information on the outside of the ballot envelope. Some voters think putting private data on public display is a bad idea.
“When I first got this ballot in the mail, I thought it was fake!” said David Fasel.
Fasel, a resident of Pinellas County, has been voting by mail for years. He loves the convenience.
“You sign it and date it,” he said, “that’s always been the process.”
Now that process is slightly different.
You still put your ballot in the envelope, seal and sign it. However, voters are now being asked to include their email address, cell, and home phone numbers on the certificate on the outside of the envelope as well.
“I contacted Channel 8 because I think everybody needs to know about this,” said Fasel.
Fasel feels the changes are seriously putting his privacy at risk.
“Any voter should be concerned,” he said.
The voter doesn’t want his personal data on an envelope where it’s visible to the world and crooks.
“The legislature’s intent was to help us, help you,” said Julie Marcus, Pinellas County’s Chief Deputy Supervisor of Elections.
Marcus didn’t make the law. Still, she, and all of Florida’s Supervisors of Elections, must follow it.
“In 2019, the State Legislature passed a law requiring Supervisors of Elections to include this information on what they call the ballot return envelope certificate,” she said.
If you forget to sign your ballot or if your signature has changed, supervisors must get in touch with you to verify your signature.
“You want to count ballots but you also want to preserve the integrity of the election process,” said Marcus.
This change helps to expedite that process.
“We can call them, we can email them … we can get a hold of them as quickly as possible to get them the information they need,” said Marcus.
This allows voters to quickly fix or “cure” their ballots. The goal is to ensure every vote counts.
But get this, you don’t have to follow this new recommendation. It is optional.
8 On Your Side has learned that although you must sign the certificate, you do not have to include your personal information on the envelope.
Officials still want you to include that information to assist them in curing your ballot, if there’s an issue.
If you’re not comfortable mailing the ballot, you can also drop it off any Supervisor of Elections office or designated ballot drop-off location.
Officials also say you can place the return envelope in another envelope to hide your personal data.
For more information, visit your the website of the Supervisor of Elections in the county where your precinct is located.