The effects of the pandemic may take several months to subside, which means we still may be practicing social distancing by the time we cast our ballots in the August and November elections.
That’s why the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area is encouraging everyone to sign up to receive vote-by-mail ballots (formerly known as absentee ballots) as soon as possible.
By requesting a vote-by-mail ballot, you can do your part to help limit the potential for the spread of the coronavirus, both to yourself and to others.
6 Things to Know About the Safety of Pinellas Vote-By-Mail
Concerned about the security of vote-by-mail ballots? Here are a few things you should know about voting by mail in Pinellas County.
1. Pinellas County’s Vote-By-Mail ballots are rarely rejected.
Out of 241,000 vote-by-mail ballots cast in Pinellas County in the 2018 General Election, only 288 (0.12%) were rejected, according to the ACLU of Florida.
2. You can still vote in-person if you want.
If you receive a Vote-By-Mail ballot but decide you’d prefer to vote in person on Election Day or during early voting, you can exchange your VBM ballot for an in-person ballot at your regular polling place.
3. You don’t have to mail your Vote-By-Mail ballot to cast it.
You can drop your VBM ballot off any time up until 7 p.m. on Election Day at any of the three Supervisor of Elections Offices:
- 501 1st Ave N in St. Petersburg
- 315 Court St in Clearwater
- 13001 Starkey Road in Largo
You cannot drop your mail ballot off at your regular polling place, but you can bring it there and exchange it for an in-person ballot.
4. Elections officials are legally required to let you know if there’s a problem.
The Supervisor of Elections’ staff contact voters who have a Vote-By-Mail ballot problem by phone or email, if they have your phone number or email address on file. They will also attempt to contact you via mail.
If your ballot has a problem, you have until 5 p.m. on the Thursday after Election Day to fix it.
The ACLU has highlighted Pinellas County as having “best practices” for curing VBM ballots. In the 2018 General Election, 600 VBM ballots were flagged for signature mismatch, but ultimately only 60 were rejected for this reason.
5. You can track the status of your ballot online.
6. Don’t forget to sign your VBM envelope!
The biggest reason Vote-By-Mail ballots are not counted? The voter forgot to sign the VBM envelope.
Remember to sign your ballot, put a stamp on it and mail it 10 days in advance — or drop it off in person — to make sure it gets to the SOE Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day!
Sign up to vote by mail at votepinellas.com or by calling the Supervisor of Elections Office at 727-464-8683.
Read more about making sure your vote-by-mail ballot counts.