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Some Polk County voters say the return envelopes in their mail-in ballot packets were already sealed

Posted at 4:17 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 17:48:52-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Stacks of mail-in ballots are being received daily inside the Polk County Supervisor of Elections office.

"We know that the couple weeks before a presidential election is going to test us, and this year has been no different," said Lori Edwards, the Polk County Supervisor of Elections.

A new challenge the office is facing this year is sealed return envelopes inside mail-in ballot packets. The adhesive likely melted from either rain, heat, or humidity, and it prompted dozens of voters to call in concerned.

"Folks who just didn't know what to do, they've never seen this before nor had we, and so they just needed help on what to do," Edwards said.

She says people can very carefully pry open the envelope with scissors or a letter opener, or cut along the edge to stick their ballot inside.

"There's no problem taping it, and what I recommend is if you do tape an envelope, go ahead and put your initials where you taped," she said.

But if you don't feel comfortable doing that — you can get a new envelope from any elections office or have one mailed to you.

"The one thing the canvas board will be looking for, the important thing (that) will (make) your ballot count or not count is if you sign the oath on the outside of the envelope," Edwards said. "We need a signature there, and the signature needs to resemble the signature that you have on file."
This year more people have been interested in the voting process, and Edwards says it's been an educational opportunity that has helped folks feel more confident in the system.

She says when it comes to volunteers, "We're not seeing more, but when you consider that we are in the COVID pandemic right now, I think the fact that we're not seeing less is actually seeing more."

If you do vote by mail — remember your ballot must be into the supervisor of elections office by 7 p.m. on election day.