Residents being encouraged to plan their vote ahead of general election

Local News

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Floridians know to plan for hurricanes. Now, people are being encouraged to plan their vote.

In Hillsborough County, more people voted by mail or voted early than on election day.

“Eighty percent of our people voted prior to election day,” said Craig Latimer, the supervisor of elections.

That breaks down to 68 percent by mail, 12 percent early voting, and 20 percent on election day.

“We’re seeing people take advantage of it because who wants to be in a crowded room with people if you don’t have to be,” Latimer said.

Still, at least 1,759 people’s ballots didn’t count. That’s because 1,195 of them arrived the day after the election. On Thursday, 564 ballots came in.

Total mail ballots received on Aug. 20: 564

  • Postmark Date/Totals
    • Aug. 19: 373
    • Aug. 18: 45
    • Aug. 17: 104
    • Aug. 15: 10
    • Aug. 13: 1
    • Aug. 12: 3
    • Aug. 11: 1
    • Aug. 6: 1
    • Aug. 5: 1
    • No Postmark: 25

Total mail ballots received Aug. 20: 1,195

  • Postmark Date/Totals
    • Aug. 18: 924  
    • Aug. 17: 242
    • Aug. 14: 1
    • Aug. 13: 1
    • July 31: 1
    • No Postmark: 26

In Florida the postmark doesn’t matter.

“People need to know Florida does no recognize the postmark in any way shape or form. That ballot must be in the supervisor’s office,” Latimer said.

Hillsborough County was the only area in Tampa Bay to receive late mail ballots. Manatee County announced Friday that more than 300 ballots have arrived late so far, 124 of which were postmarked on Election Day itself.

That’s why his office and various organizations, like the League of Women Voters are urging people to plan now and execute early.

“Despite all these obstacles being placed by the changing postal service, we are encouraging people to request your ballot now,” Chris Conn with LWV said.

The Hillsborough Branch NAACP is encouraging people to plan their vote as well. In addition to their usual “Souls to the Polls” event where they take people to vote, they’re planning a big ballot drop off block party at Cyrus Green Park in Tampa before the November general election.

Voters can request a ballot for the general election now. In Hillsborough, they will start going out on Sept. 24. But don’t just request it, use it.

Latimer said almost half who request ballots, don’t send them back.

In Tuesday’s primary, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office “sent out 340,000 vote-by-mail ballots and only got back 155,000 of them. We only get back about 50 percent of what we mail out.”

Hillsborough SOE has a way to make sure when voters send in a ballot, it’s received on time.

Voters can go on their website and sign up for an email or text alert and the moment the ballot is logged into the system, the voter will be notified. If voters don’t hear back in a reasonable time, they can call and find out why.

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