ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The ABC Action News I-Team is uncovering more instances of mail-in ballots being delivered to the wrong address and reminding voters what to do if it happens to you.
Last week, we reported how a Pasco County poll worker received someone else’s mail-in ballot.
He says when he told the post office he was returning it to the Supervisor of Elections Office, a U.S. Postal Service employee threatened him with arrest.
This week, a viewer from Pinellas County contacted us about two more mail-in ballot mishaps.
In both cases, mail-in ballots intended for voters who lived in apartments were delivered to single-family homes several miles away.
“I think it was within the past week that this one came,” Jessica Rayburn said, holding up a ballot addressed to someone who doesn’t reside at her home.
She says it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Several weeks ago the same person’s voter registration card had also been mistakenly delivered to Rayburn’s home.
“We got the voter ID card and obviously recognized that it wasn’t anyone at the house. So we initiated correspondence to the Supervisor of Elections. Never heard anything back,” Rayburn said.
Rayburn said another household member sent a handwritten note to the supervisor’s office instead of forwarding the voter’s registration card.
Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Spokesperson Dustin Chase said the office has no record of the correspondence. But had the elections office received the returned mail, they would have realized they had it wrong in the system.
Chase said the supervisor’s office incorrectly changed the voter’s address to an address in St. Petersburg instead of in St. Pete Beach, as intended by the voter.
Rayburn says a short time after receiving the misdirected ballot, she visited a friend who also received a ballot delivered to the wrong address.
The ballot was delivered to a Snell Island home but was addressed to an apartment off Gandy Blvd., more than seven miles away.
“The numerical is completely different. The street name is completely different. Again, there’s an apartment number. This is a structured home with no units attached to it. It’s just concerning. How did this happen?" Rayburn said. “Thank God it fell into good hands and somebody that wanted to do the right thing.”
Rayburn forwarded both ballots to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
That’s what elections officials say you should do – immediately – if you receive the wrong ballot, adding that security features such as signature matching, ensure ballots won’t be counted from any one but the intended voter.
Very few of the more than 370,000 Pinellas County vote-by-mail ballots have had issues, elections officials say.
But Rayburn remains unconvinced.
“Even though there are certain levels of protection in place, what levels of protection were in place for this to happen?” Rayburn said.
We notified a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service and he said his office is looking into how the ballot ended up being delivered to the wrong address.
“Despite our best efforts, occasionally mail is misdelivered or is delivered to an old location for an individual,” David Walton, spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, wrote in a statement. “If a customer receives Election Mail or a ballot for the previous resident, they should drop the mail piece into a collection box or other mail receptacle, or place it in their outgoing mail area, with the notation ‘Not at this address’ marked on the envelope.”
Elections officials say both of the voters whose ballots were lost in the mail will receive new mail-in ballots.
CHECK YOUR BALLOT
If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot, but haven’t received it, you can check the status of your ballot on your local supervisor of elections website.
Here’s a link to those sites from the Florida Department of State, which oversees elections.
If you have already voted by mail, you can track your ballot to see when it was received by your supervisor of elections.
If you have a story you think the I-Team should investigate, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org