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A problem with Hillsborough’s mail-in ballot? Actually, the problem is with the envelope

Because I may be out of town on election day, I requested and received a mail-in ballot from Hillsborough County.  About 150,000 other residents in the county received the same.

When I went to return my completed ballot, I discovered that I had accidentally sliced open both the envelope the ballot arrived in and the return envelope that was enclosed.  I felt stupid for doing it, but I opened the initial letter with my letter opener as I do with all my mail and I didn’t even think about it until I went to send the ballot in.

So I’ve gotta ask myself, is there a potential problem with Hillsborough County’s mail-in ballot.

Return envelope sliced open while opening original mailing

Return envelope sliced open while opening original mailing

I called the Supervisor of Elections office when I discovered the problem and when the clerk answered, I said I had an issue with the return envelope in my mail-in ballot (envelope on left in photo above).  The operator immediately asked if I had cut open the bottom of my return envelope.

Hey, this woman knew exactly why I was calling so I assumed it must have happened before.  I said yes and asked if I could just tape it closed.  She said no, the office would have to send me a new return envelope to use, otherwise my vote would not be counted!  Say What!!!

About four days later the new return envelope arrived and I used it to send in my ballot.

So I’m asking myself about all those people who may be waiting until the last minute to send in their mail-in ballots.  If they too have sliced open their return envelope there may not be enough time for them to receive a new return envelope and get their ballot mailed in before the election deadline.  That means they loose their opportunity to vote in what may be one of the most important elections in the history of Florida.

There are 766,092 registered voters in Hillsborough County and 150,000 of them have requested mail-in ballots.  That’s almost one in five registered voters or 19.58% of the electorate.

Now ask yourself, how close was the last governor’s race and how close is this election going to be.   Right now it’s a dead heat.  So yeah, it’s gonna be close.

If just 10% of those receiving mail-in ballots discover a problem with their return envelope (like I did) that’s 15,000 votes.  And if just 10% of that group are unable to vote because they do not discover the problem with the return envelope in time, that’s 1,500 votes.  A small number, but enough to affect an election.

Now if more than 10% have a problem with the return envelope, the issue gets even bigger. Then again, there may only be a handful who sliced open both envelopes . . . like I did.

If you or anyone you know plans to vote early using the mail-in ballot, make sure you are careful when you open the envelope.  You don’t want to accidentally slice open the mail-in envelope that is inside along with the ballot. If you do, you’re vote may not count.  Hey, you may not be able to vote at all.

And that’s a problem.

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Mai-in ballot problem


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