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Lawsuit seeks mail ballots for every Florida voter

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FILE – In this March 10, 2020, file photo wearing gloves, a King County Election worker collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, in Seattle. But the 2020 presidential election is creeping ever closer, and there are no signs yet of pandemic abating, nor any word on when Americans on orders to stay home can resume normal life, and so lawmakers are trying to figure how to allow for voting in a world where face-to-face contact causes anxiety at the least, and sickness and death at the most. (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS SERVICES) – Uncertainty over the health risks of voting in August and November have three citizens suing to make sure every registered voter gets a mail-in ballot and the state pays the return postage.

Many elections supervisors are already reaching out to voters and asking if they want a mail-in ballot.

The lawsuit was filed by a retired sheriff’s deputy and two others who work helping senior citizens.

It asserts requiring voters to request a mail ballot rather than just sending one, and requiring them to pay the postage is asking too much.

“Many people don’t have computers,” said attorney Harvey Sepler, who is representing the three plaintiffs. “They don’t want to leave their homes because of the virus because they don’t want to expose themselves. That means they don’t want to leave to request a mail in ballot.”

The suit has been assigned to a judge, but no hearing has been set.

The lawsuit comes as a poll by a group calling itself Secure Democracy found overwhelming national support for everyone getting a mail ballot. However, the same poll found 93 percent want polling places to be open as well.

“And in person voting is going to look different,” said Hillsborough County Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer, who also serves as President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

Supervisors have already asked Gov. DeSantis for the authority to consolidate polling places.

“We’re not going to be letting 30, 40 people into polling site at the same time,” said Latimer.

Most voters are already getting cards asking if they want a mail ballot.

In 2018, a third of the ballots were cast by mail, but in this past Presidential Preference Primary that jumped to over 50 percent in some counties.

So far, the state hasn’t responded to two requests from supervisors who want more days of early voting and longer times to mail and process ballots.

“And I’m going to go back and check and make sure I had the right address because we haven’t heard anything,” said Latimer.

Remember, you can request a mail ballot, and as long as you don’t return it you can still vote in person on election day or early voting.

You can also return the ballot in person until the polls close.

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