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How to make sure your mail ballot was counted in Florida’s election

Compared to the same time in prior election cycles, a higher percentage of mail ballots have been flagged for rejection.
 
Workers run ballots through voting machines during a logic and accuracy test at the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections warehouse in Tampa on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.
Workers run ballots through voting machines during a logic and accuracy test at the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections warehouse in Tampa on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 4, 2022

About 0.7% of all mail ballots cast across Florida as of Thursday in the 2022 election have been flagged for rejection, nearly double the percentage of ballots at the same point in previous election cycles.

That’s according to data analysis from Daniel Smith, the chairperson of the University of Florida Department of Political Science. He found that 15,714 of the ballots cast so far have been flagged, the majority of them for mismatched signatures, followed by ballots flagged for missing signatures on the envelope.

The number is a tiny fraction of the 2.3 million total mail ballots cast, and some of those flagged could end up being counted if the voter “cures” the issue.

But Smith said at the same point in 2018, about 0.36% of the ballots were rejected. In 2020, a few days out before the election, the rejection rate was also about 0.36%, according to Smith. He did not say why he thinks this year has a higher rejection rate.

“It’s concerning that the VBM rejection rate is roughly double what it was in the past two elections at this time,” Smith said in an email. “There’s still time for voters to cure their ballots, but time’s running short.”

Dustin Chase, a spokesperson for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, said he doesn’t think his office is seeing an uptick in mail ballot rejections. But Chase also said many Pinellas voters have for years used mail ballots, so “our voters tend to be a little more educated on the process.”

Here’s what you can do if your ballot gets flagged.

Related: Planning to vote by mail in Tampa Bay? Here's what you should know

How do I know if my ballot is flagged?

When a voter’s mail ballot has flaws, the local supervisor of elections office begins the process of contacting the voter through phone calls, text, email and first-class mail if possible, Chase said.

In 2020, three out of four rejected ballots were fixed and counted, according to Smith’s analysis. Younger voters are more likely to have problems with their mail ballots, Smith said.

Voters can also check the progress of their mail ballot on their local supervisor of election’s website.

How long do I have to fix the problem?

Voters have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 to fix problems with their ballot so it can be counted.

What do I need to do?

If a ballot is flagged for rejection, a voter can fill out an affidavit with their printed signature and a copy of their ID and submit it to their local elections supervisor through email, fax or by hand-delivering it to an office.

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