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As Skepticism Of Vote By Mail Increases, Local Election Officials Try To Reassure Voters

Tom Flanigan
Leon Supervisor Mark Earley stands next to one of the many lockers used for protecting and storing ballots

President Donald J. Trump has been openly skeptical about voting by mail and that's sowing doubt among some voters, despite assurances from local election officials who say Florida’s systems are safe.

“I personally don’t trust the mail-in ballot system and plan to vote in person to make sure my vote really counts. I want to physically see my vote getting counted instead of hoping it’s counted,” said Army veteran Gregory Prichard.

According to a Pew Research Center report in June, 65% of respondents said they approved of “no excuse” absentee/vote-by-mail balloting. The survey was conducted from June 16-22. A similar study by Gallop on voter attitudes taken two months prior showed voters largely in support of mail-in-voting but also worried about fraud. Both surveys revealed divides in opinion based on political party, with Republicans more concerned about fraud than Democrats.

Florida, a key battleground state, has used vote-by-mail for nearly 20 years. Though he’s repeatedly lambasted absentee balloting, President Trump said in an August tweet of Florida’s systems, “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True.”

Still, all the talk about elections fraud has voters like Prichard nervous and has local election officials trying to reassure them while still encouraging vote-by-mail.

In Florida, any voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot can track its status through a link within the Division of Elections' Voter Information Lookup or through their county Supervisor of Elections website.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley says residents can also use early voting drop boxes for added security. “Each drop box is staffed by election personnel to ensure ballots are secure. Ballots are taken from the drop boxes directly to the Elections Office, so no postage is necessary if the ballot is returned by drop box,” Earley said.

Earley says the boxes will be stationed at early voting locations across the county. “Voted ballots must be returned in the green envelope, with the voter’s signature and date signed.”

There are also secure vote-by-mail boxes located at Leon County Supervisor of Elections' main and branch offices.

To find early voting locations as well as more information about voting, go to LeonVotes.gov. In Leon County, voting for the 2020 General Election begins October 19th and ends on November 1st. The final day for voting is Election Day, November 3rd.

I am Adriana Alexander, a broadcast journalism senior at Florida A&M University (FAMU). I currently write stories for the FAMU campus newspaper, The FAMUAN and produce content for FAMU’s radio station, 90.5. As a former anchor of the News 20 at 5 FAMU newscast, I also edited video packages and worked as an associate producer. I own AEA Visuals, a media company focused on producing quality photography, videography, and graphic design. Multimedia journalism is my passion and is what I will continue to do throughout my career.