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Politics / Issues
What you need to know about the 2020 elections across the greater Tampa Bay region.

Voting Advocates Want Floridians To Vote Early, Avoid Election Day Woes

A sign is placed outside of a polling place at the Boca Raton Library during the Florida primary election, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Boca Raton, Fla.  As Florida officials try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the state's voters will head to the polls and cast ballots in the Democratic presidential primary.
A sign is placed outside of a polling place at the Boca Raton Library during the Florida primary election, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Boca Raton, Fla. As Florida officials try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the state's voters will head to the polls and cast ballots in the Democratic presidential primary.

As Florida’s primary election draws near, voting rights advocates urge people to cast their ballots before election day.

All Voting is Local encourages people to vote early, whether by mail or in-person. The group’s Florida director, Brad Ashwell, says Florida should learn from the challenges other states saw during this year’s primaries:

“We’ve seen long lines. We’ve seen lots of problems. In Georgia, they had almost every problem you can imagine and we don’t want to see that relived in Florida.”

Ashwell explains early voting takes the pressure off election officials, who he says are short on poll workers this year because of concerns about the coronavirus. He says mail-in ballots are the safest way to vote this year.

However, there are three main ways a mail-in ballot could be rejected in Florida: One is if the envelope isn’t signed. Another is if it’s not received on time. And lastly, if the signature on the ballot doesn’t match the signature the elections office has on file. Brad Ashwell says voters can go to their supervisor of elections office to update their signatures:

“Voters should be able to go into the office, do a signature update form, or they can print the voter registration form offline and sign it, update it and send it in.”

Ashwell explains the way people sign their names can change over time, and that could keep their vote from getting counted. But he says if someone’s mail-in ballot is in question, the elections office should notify them so they can fix it. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot for the primary is August 8. Afterward, voters can pick up a mail ballot at their supervisor of elections’ office. Early voting for the primary elections begins August 3.

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