Mail-in ballots hit the post office Thursday: What you need to know to ensure your vote counts

We spoke with Duval County Election Supervisor Mike Hogan to find out how you can ensure your vote counts.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Vote-by-mail ballots hit the mail Thursday and will soon begin arriving at mailboxes throughout Florida ahead of the August 23 Primary Election.

In Duval County alone, about 100,000 mail ballots went out Thursday morning.

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Voting by mail will be a little different this year compared to the 2020 election due to changes in the law, but we spoke with Duval County Election Supervisor Mike Hogan to find out how you can ensure your vote counts.

Provide driver’s license number

One of the big changes in the law impacting voters this election cycle is a requirement for voters to provide their driver license number, Florida ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number when requesting a mail ballot.

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Hogan told us his office has been contacting roughly 34,000 voters in Duval County who don’t have that information on file.

“We sent them a form. They can do it on the form. It’s an update and all they have to do is check the update on the registration form, fill in the information,” Hogan said.

Clearly bubble in your choices with black pen

Once you have received your mail ballot, Hogan recommends reading the directions carefully and clearly bubbling in your choices with a black pen.

Common mistakes include accidentally marking two candidates in the same race, or marking your choice with a check mark, ‘x’ or circle.

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“Don’t do this,” Hogan said.

Once you’ve made your picks, place the ballot into the envelope.

Make sure your ballot is signed

Hogan said if there are multiple mail ballots in a household, ensure the ballots are placed in the envelope for the correct voter and only place one ballot in each envelope.

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Then sign your signature clearly and carefully.

“That’s the most important thing on that document other than who you selected that you wanted to vote for,” Hogan said.

Return your ballot by mail or in person

You can return your ballot by putting it back in the mail or returning it in person to the Supervisor of Elections office.

You can also return it to a mail ballot drop box.

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This election cycle, drop boxes will be available for use at the Supervisor of Elections office during regular office hours.

You can also use a drop box at any early voting site August 8-August 21 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Track your ballot

Once your ballot is returned, you can track the status of your ballot on the supervisor’s website.

“It’ll tell you that we’ve received it,” Hogan said.

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In the event of an issue, the supervisor will contact you.

“And they have an opportunity to cure whatever the problem is,” Hogan said.

You still have time to request a mail-in ballot

And Hogan said while there are more opportunities for things to go wrong with vote by mail, it is a secure way of voting.

“It’s a different way to vote, but it’s safe,” Hogan said.

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If you haven’t requested a mail ballot yet, but want to, you can request one online, over the phone or in person as late as August 22.

If you request one less than 10 days before the election, you’ll have to pick it up in person.

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