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Officials urge not to wait until the last minute to register to vote

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 5th
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Posted at 11:44 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 00:12:47-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- Elections officials are urging voters not to wait until the last minute to register to vote.

The deadline is this Monday, October 5th.

Already, supervisors are reporting thousands of mail-in ballots being returned.

“We urge people to get your ballot back fast and they’re listening,” said Craig Latimer, the Hillsborough County. “I think they’re getting their ballots back fast. We’re seeing a brisk turnout with people dropping their ballots, especially at our Falkenburg Road office. It’s almost like a car parade out there with people waiting to drop off their ballot.”

Latimer said they’ve sent out nearly 380,000 vote-by-mail ballots to people who have requested them, and received more than 30,000 back.

Starting Thursday, there will be drop off tents at all four office locations in Hillsborough County. You can learn more information here.

On Wednesday, they had a public logic and accuracy test of ballot scanners, using a test deck that will be used this election to make sure each vote is counted accurately.

“We had a very successful outcome for the public logic and accuracy test. The machines will now be locked down, sealed and ultimately deployed out in the community for voting and early vote sites and election day,” Latimer said.

Meanwhile, Pinellas County is seeing record numbers already.

“This is a record-breaking year. People are super engaged in Pinellas County,” said Julie Marcus, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.

She said the county has also seen the most registered voters it’s ever had, with more than 703,000.

“One of the biggest things we’re facing in this election cycle is misinformation and trying to get through all of those weeds to make sure voters have the information they need to be able to participate in these elections,” she said.

In Pinellas County, Marcus said voters can drop off their mail-in ballots at drop off locations throughout the county during early voting and Monday before election day, if they’re not returning by mail. You can learn more information here.

Pasco County is also reporting historic numbers so far.

“Democracy is alive and well. We sent out our vote by mail ballots last Thursday. It was about a third of our entire voter roll, which was a new record and the first day we could have really gotten them back was yesterday and we received historic numbers back -- over 10,000 plus in one day,” said Brian Corley, the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections.

Voters must request a mail-in ballot and remember to sign it. Corley said if you have questions, reach out to your elections supervisor. If you decide you’d rather vote in-person, he said his advice is to bring the ballot with you to vote and surrender it. Ballots must be returned to the offices of the supervisor of elections by the end of the day on November 3.

There’s no doubt, though, the year has been different for many.

“My colleagues and I -- going back to March -- the presidential preference primary, we learned a lot then and certainly learned a lot in the most recent primary in August. Things like providing Plexiglas shields, providing masks, sanitizer, social distancing. We were able to make it work and we’re gonna make it work for this upcoming general election,” Corley said.

All three county's elections supervisors offer ways to track your mail-in ballot through their websites.