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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida has never sent out more military and overseas ballots



Changes to federal and state laws over the last five years have helped to increase the number of ballots being sent to active military and overseas voters to record numbers.

The Florida Division of Elections says more than 73,670 ballots were shipped out last week to those voters. That is a 13 percent increase over four years ago when 65,000 such ballots went out.

Since 2012, every state has agreed to send out military and overseas ballots 45 days in advance of an election to improve the chances those ballots can get to far flung voters and still get back in time to be counted. Florida also now allows military and overseas voters to fax back their ballots on a secure line, rather than risking them not returning fast enough.

The 73,670 ballots may not seem like much in a state in which 12.5 million people are registered to vote. But Florida has had its last two governors races and last presidential election all decided by less than 75,000 votes.

Still, election experts say there needs to be a lot more done to help make military and overseas voters aware that they can still vote and how to navigate the process. A federal report released to Congress earlier this year warns that military and overseas voters have their ballots thrown out for errors 6 percent of the time. Traditional mail ballots in the U.S. are thrown out for errors only 1 percent of the time.

Florida Military and Overseas Ballots Mail Out By Election
2012 - General Election: 65174
2014 - General Election: 64959
2016 - Presidential Primary: 28862
2016 - August Primary: 55096
2016 - General Election: 73670

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 12:51pm]


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