TAMPA, Fla. (Cap News) — Thousands of mail-in ballots that have been returned in Florida are already getting a second look from election canvassing officials who say they’ve found voters mismarked their ballots, changed their minds or chose to waste their votes.
Under Florida law, canvassing boards include the local supervisor of elections, a county judge and the chair of the county commission. Substitutions are allowed if one of the officers is unavailable or if one is a candidate on the ballot.
Right now, those canvassing boards in every county are saving thousands of voters from their own mistakes.
“The last one didn’t go through the machine because they put their ‘I voted’ sticker on the ballot,” explained Mary Ann Lindley, a member of the canvassing board in Leon County.
Our Tallahassee bureau reporter observed the Leon County canvassing board in action on Tuesday and took away some key lessons.
Lesson number one: Don’t vote for more than one candidate in a race.
“Two people for this presidential. Three people for this presidential,” Lindley said as she went through ballots.
Lesson two: Don’t use red ink
“That’s basically invisible ink. So we’re very clear on how the voter intended to vote and we are able to re-mark it for them,” said Holly Thompson from the Leon County elections staff.
Lesson three: Try to be as clear as possible.
“Just be very solid. Those light little ball point pen marks are hard to read,” said Lindley.
On one ballot we saw, the voter tried to erase their first choice. On another, Joe Biden’s name was bubbled in but then there was a write in for Will Ferrell. In that case, the board voted to count the Biden vote.
The final lesson: If you plan to vote by mail, don’t wait.
“Don’t mail it to us any later than Oct. 27. But I would advise you if you are going through the mail, (do it) sooner than that,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said.
If you do vote by mail, you can check online to see if your vote has been counted. Those track sites will also let you know if you need to fix any problems.
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