Ayesha Mohammed cast her vote early to avoid any problems on election day. Unfortunately, she says voting early created more problems for her than she could’ve ever imagined.
Mohammed walked into the Riverview Public Library around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. She said it took about 5 minutes to get her ballot, then nearly an hour to cast it.
“I was ushered to the error station,” Mohammed said.
According to Mohammed and precinct officials, Mohammed was accidentally handed another man named Joe’s ballot. Joe was given her ballot. But, during the confusion Mohammed said a poll worker asked if she was another man named Mahmoud.
“I definitely don't think it was coincidental that they asked me I was Mahmoud,” Mohammed said. At first, Mohammed didn’t want to believe all of the issues were malicious. But, then she felt the mix up with the name Mahmoud and the fact that she is Indian all played a role in getting the wrong ballot and poll workers unable to figure out what went wrong.
“When I was going into it…I had full faith in our democracy. I didn't believe in the whole rigged election stigma but after it happened it started to bother me and I started to understand the stigma. The reason I went to vote early was to avoid the hassle in all of this and then this happened.”
A spokesperson for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, Gerri Kramer, said once poll workers figured out the problem all protocols were followed. All of the ballots were destroyed and Mohammed and Joe were issued new ballots.
Mohammed wishes she would have been able to watch her ballot get destroyed. And the way everything happened made her feel disenfranchised as a voter.
“I don't think my vote is going to count, at this point,” Mohammed said. “Cause, I am not sure. I ended up filling out a new ballot, but, I'm not sure about the sheet that got put through with my ballot number on it already. So, I'm not sure if it's going to be twice and end up canceling out because there is a duplicate. So, I don't think my vote is going to count at this point.”
Kramer said she is confident that Mohammed's vote will count for this election.
“I feel very bad that Ms. Mohammed left the polling place upset and concerned, and I have reached out to her in an effort to allay her concerns. The ballot given out by mistake was spoiled and was not put through the scanner. Ms. Mohammed was given the correct ballot for her precinct, and it has been counted, Kramer said.”
For more helpful resources and information on voting in Hillsborough County click here.