With COVID-19, mail-in-balloting in Florida is bigger than ever

Miami-Dade, Broward counties have mailed out close to a million ballots between them

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Early voting has been underway in Miami-Dade County since Monday; it begins Saturday in Broward County. Election officials said turnout at the polls has been average, but it is up sharply with voting by mail, which is not without controversy and challenges.

For months, President Donald Trump has blasted mail-in voting as fraudulent. This week, however, Trump changed his tune, perhaps realizing that it could hurt his chances in Florida, where many voters are expected to vote by mail.

“Florida is a very well run state,” Trump said. “Low taxes, low everything. They’ve done a great job, really, a great job.”

Call them mail-in or absentee, there’s really no difference between the ballots; they both accomplish the same thing, letting people vote from the comfort of their home.

“People are a little uncomfortable showing up in person or showing up some place that could have crowds so they are availing themselves to kitchen-table voting,” Pete Antonacci, Broward Election Supervisor, said.

Mail-in ballots have already been flooding the Miami-Dade and Broward Election department offices. In Broward, they have had 412,000 requests from voters for a mail-in ballot and 113,000 have already been returned. In Miami-Dade, there’s even more.

“So, we’ve mailed more than 455,000 vote by mail-ballots out for this election,” Christina White, Miami-Dade Election Supervisor said.

Mail-in ballots are labor intensive for election officials. Once they are opened, the voter’s signature is checked against the signature on file. They are supposed to match.

“Whether the signature doesn’t match or you forgot to sign and you provide your contact information on the vote-by-mail envelope, we will call you, text you, email you and send you a letter. We will do all of the above if you provide us that contact information, giving you the opportunity to make those corrections and ensure that your ballot is counted,” White said.

The election supervisor said if you have received a mail-in ballot, but haven’t filled it out yet, get to it. The sooner they get them, the sooner they can be counted. All mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m., Aug. 18, Election Day.

[Order Your Broward Vote By Mail Ballot here. Deadline is Saturday, Aug. 8 to request]

[Order Your Miami-Dade County Vote By Mail Ballot here. Deadline is Saturday Aug. 8.]