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Leon Supervisor Of Elections Office Sees Brisk Traffic As Voters Return Mail-In Ballots In Person

A man in a face mask talks to a woman before putting an envelope into a box
Steve Bousquet
Dan Reynolds delivers his mail-in ballot in-person to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office

All day long, Tallahassee voters deliver their vote by mail ballots, or the votes of their family members, to a drop box at the election headquarters on Apalachee Parkway.

“I feel think it’s going to be a nice turnout, and I see as I came up, people coming and everything. I feel good about it, I do,” said Mary Moore, a retired teacher of special needs children. She was glad to see so many other voters dropping off their ballots and felt it was important to get hers to its destination as soon as possible.

“In case I can’t come, well, then I would have already had it done, if I get sick or something. I felt it was important to go ahead and do it right away,” Moore said.

Dan Reynolds, a retired airline worker, said he appreciated the convenience of the drop box.

“I think it’s great, especially for old people. I just wanted to make sure I got it in, so I brought it here.”

Reynolds brought his ballot, plus his wife’s, son’s and daughter-in-law’s. He said he did not completely trust the post office to safely deliver their ballots.

“Going to the post office? Getting the mail is hard enough. It just felt safer here. I didn’t want to wait, and I knew who I wanted to vote for,” Reynolds said.

Voting-by-mail is surging in popularity this election cycle, brought about because of the coronavirus pandemic. With three weeks before Election Day, more than a quarter of the 5.5 million absentee ballot requests have been returned to election supervisors across the state.

Leon County election worker Cassandra Forbes sat close to the drop box, wearing a black face mask that said “VOTE” on it. She reminded every voter to be sure their signature was on the ballot envelope.

“When people come up here to drop them off, I have to ask them, did they sign their ballot?” Ford said. “It has to be signed … and people are dropping them off here so they don’t have to mail them.”

Signature problems are one of the biggest reasons mail-in ballots are rejected.

Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said the drop box is getting about 800 mail ballots a day from voters. “Walk-ups,” Earley called them. The pace will likely intensify soon.

More drop boxes will be available at all 10 of the county’s early voting sites beginning Monday, October 19th. More information on early voting can be found at the election web site, leonvotes.gov.

Steve Bousquet has covered state government and politics for three decades at the Sun Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald. He was the Times' Tallahassee bureau chief from 2005 to 2018 and has also covered city and county politics in Broward County. He has a master's degree in U.S. history from Florida State.