Q: Can you dispel some of the myths surrounding Vote by Mail?
A: One of the biggest myths surrounding Vote by Mail ballots is that they are only counted when an election is close. The fact is, they are the first to be counted. Vote by Mail ballots are opened and processed by the canvassing board starting a week prior to Election Day, as they come in to our office. We use the high speed counter, which is different from the machines used at the precincts. We keep the results secure until 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Q: How does one make a request for a Vote by Mail ballot?
A: You can request one by visiting our website or calling our office. The request can be for up to two elections, or four years — or any number of elections in between. If the voter doesn’t specify a time frame, we will send the Vote by Mail ballots for the four years. When the Vote by Mail time frame is expiring, we send out a postcard notification. Voters may either allow it to expire, or call us or go online to expand the request.
If you look on our website under “Quick Links,” there is an option of “My Voter Status.” Here, you can check your voter record as well as see if you will be receiving a ballot by mail. You can also check to see when the ballot has been mailed, and once you have returned it to us, you can see when we received it.
Q: What is important to note when filling out a Vote by Mail ballot?
A: In order to be counted, the voter must sign the outside of the envelope where it clearly states “Voter Must Sign.” This is the signature that will be compared to the signature we have on file and serves as the official ID for the ballot. If the signature here doesn’t match or is left blank, we will contact the voter either by telephone, email, or US Mail, with the steps they must take to “cure” the ballot. Under current law, the voter has until the Monday prior to Election Day to cure.
Q: Are there typically a lot of Vote by Mail ballots that end up being not valid?
A: In November 2018, our office received more than 30,000 Vote by Mail ballots. Fewer than 100 ended up being rejected because the voter did not sign or the signature didn’t match AND the voter didn’t respond to our efforts to cure. That is really a very small percentage.
Q: What’s the most important thing to note about voting by mail?
A: If you choose to Vote by Mail, you need to return the ballot in time to be counted. It must be received by our office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Last election, we received approximately 200 ballots the day after Election Day. They had been postmarked either the day before Election Day or on Election Day itself, but were received by our office too late to be counted.
Q: What about overseas military voters?
A: They receive their ballots 45 days prior to Election Day and are the only group who may receive their ballot via email to print out and either fax or air mail back to us. Overseas military has an additional 10 days after Election Day for their ballot to be received and counted.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at email@example.com or call me at (904) 823-2238. Our website, www.votesjc.com also has a wealth of information.