Coronavirus, mail ballots, felons voting, challenges for November election

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 5:18 PM CDT
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The coronavirus is putting a heavy strain on elections officials prior to the November general election.

With the prospect of a flood of vote by mail voters and a court case on felons rights that could add nearly a million new voters to the rolls, elections officials are hoping to extend certain deadlines to ensure every vote is counted.

In the past two general elections nearly three million Florida voters cast their ballot through the mail.

Elections officials are preparing for double that in November, due to the coronavirus.

“We don't know what the future looks like. If we did, things would be simple,” said Tammy Jones, Levy County Supervisor of Elections.

Jones is also the President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

She tells us managing the anticipated influx will be difficult enough, but state Democrats are also asking the Governor to send all 13.7 million voters a mail ballot.

"It's just simply not enough time to get those ballots out if we were to do it all vote by mail,” said Jones.

There’s also an ongoing federal trial regarding felons’ ability to vote if they can’t pay outstanding fines and fees.

Depending on how the judge ultimately rules, the total voting population in the state could be increase by as many as 775,000.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley, who has been intimately involved in the case tells us registering the additional voters wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, unless they have to jump through extra hoops to prove their eligible.

“That's a multi-step process. One is getting a process in place. The second is, you know using that process to show that you cannot afford to pay your LFO's (Legal Financial Obligations) and then that gets you registered,” said Earley.

Supervisors are also facing an anticipated lack of poll workers, potential closures and consolidations of polling locations and the task of ensuring adequate social distancing at polling places.

To reduce the additional strains, supervisors are hoping to extend the window to send out mail ballots and extend early voting.

But so far there’s no been word from the Governor.

“We need to know that now. It would have been to know some of it, you know two or three weeks ago,” said Earley.

If you do decide to vote by mail, you can make sure your vote will count by updating your signature on file now, and requesting and returning your ballot as soon as possible.