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Manatee Co. Elections supervisor advises how to make vote count after hundreds of mail-in ballots rejected in primary

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Posted at 4:04 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 18:09:55-04

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Hundreds of mail-in ballots were rejected for the August 18 primary in Manatee County. With the General Election under two months away, voters will want to take close care to make sure their vote counts.

“You can’t really blame these on the post office,” said Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett.

Bennett says they sent out about 100,000 mail-in ballots for the August primary and received about 50,000 back. The Supervisor of Elections Office sent ABC Action News new data that shows 762 mail-in ballots were rejected.

Bennett says some did not get in until after the deadline, while others had problems with the signature. When ABC Action News interviewed Bennett on Tuesday, he showed us the stack of ballots he’s still getting in the mail.

“Today’s mail had vote-by-mail ballots come back that you can tell the people actually signed them after the election,” said Bennett. “Well when you sign your ballot after the election, it doesn’t do anybody any good.”

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If your signature has changed since you first registered to vote, you will need to update it with their office, or they may not be able to accept your ballot. Bennett says they need to have ballots in hand by 7 p.m. on Election Day, not based on the postmarked date, with the exception being for the military and voters overseas.

“It’s not like a presidential preference primary, where people are going to drop out at the last minute, and so you might feel your vote is wasted. That’s not the case in the General Election,” said Bennett. “In the General Election, who's ever on the ballot is on the ballot. So there’s no reason to delay.”

Bennett expects mail-in numbers will go up another 15% to 20% for the General Election. He suggests people mail in their ballot at least one week in advance. Bennett says people should look at voting by mail as an insurance policy.

“They might get sick, the kids get sick, the traffic got bad, whatever it was. If they had it, they would have that extra free, free insurance policy to make sure that they would have the opportunity to vote," said Bennett.

You can request your vote by mail ballot up to 10 days before an election.

You can request a vote by mail ballot in person at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, online after clicking on "Vote By Mail," or by calling 941-741-3823. You can also email info@votemanatee.com, but make sure to include your name, date of birth, and address.