Vote total approaches 1.3 million, as flawed mail ballots mount
High interest in Florida's presidential primary pushed the total votes cast to 1.25 million through Monday. Pinellas County continues to report the most mail ballots of any county in Florida. The Department of State on Tuesday reported county-by-county totals of 938,265 returned mail ballots and 316,144 early votes cast for a total of 1,254,409. Republicans continue to vote in higher numbers than Democrats across the state.
County election supervisors also are noting a small but growing number of ballots that could be invalidated for various reasons, but the most common flaw is that an absentee voter forgets to sign the ballot envelope or someone else may sign it on behalf of the voter.
Miami-Dade, the state's most populous county, reported a total of 2,592 questionable ballots through Monday's tallies. Broward County, with a much smaller turnout so far, reported 747.
In the four counties that make up Tampa Bay, 1,699 ballots have been red-flagged as suspect because of voter error or a lack of signature, a total that's slightly less than 1 percent of all ballots cast. Hillsborough reported 725 flawed ballots through Monday and Pinellas reported 540, according to data analyzed by the Times/Herald. Hernando reported 253 such ballots and Pasco County has the region's most careful voters, with 181 flagged for problems.
The ballots have not been rejected. Most county election supervisors attempt to notify every voter who has submitted a questionable ballot. If not corrected, those ballots are referred to three-member county canvassing boards who will rule on each ballot individually at public meetings.
By law, the most common reasons that ballots can be rejected are that the signature does not match; there is no signature; the ballot envelope was signed by another person; the voter has moved out of the county; the voter has already voted; the voter is dead; and the ballot was returned as undeliverable.
NOTE: An earlier version of this post contained inaccurate information on the number of votes cast so far in Pinellas.