By Anne Geggis
An avalanche of mail-in votes has hit the Broward Supervisor of Election Office, and now the clock is ticking on hundreds of ballots that arrived with errors.
Already, with days to go before Primary Election Day on Tuesday, the number of mail-in votes cast in Broward County is more than double the entire sum of those mailed in during 2018’s primary election.
With COVID-19 discouraging people from gathering in large crowds —like those found at polling places — voting by mail is closely watched. As of Friday, 517 mail-in votes received from Broward County had not been counted yet because of mismatched signatures and other errors. But that number is a tiny percentage of the total of mail-in votes— less than half of one percent.
By Sunday, the state’s website was showing 180,761 mail-in votes cast so far in Broward County. But even one uncounted means 100 percent of someone’s ballot does not get counted.
“You want to count every vote because every vote counts,” said Mitch Ceasar, a candidate for Broward County supervisor of elections. “It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true more than ever … after all, the stuff in Broward we’ve gone through over the last 20 years.”
Tim Lonergan, an Oakland Park city commissioner, also a candidate for Broward County elections supervisor, said he’s hoping every mail-in ballot error gets rectified before Primary Election Day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the demand for mail-in voting because large crowds like what you might find at the polls are believed to be a chief means of spreading the virus.
That’s why Mercedes Alvarez-Hernandez went to a mailbox instead of the polls to cast her ballot.
“It’s been pretty scary,” Alverez-Hernandez, 59, recently of Coral Springs, said of the COVID-19 crisis. “I wasn’t sure what was going to be happening” by Primary Election Day.
But mail-in voting has become even more controversial as the United States Post Office has warned the demand for this kind of voting might crush the mail service’s capacity to deliver in time. President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned about fraud caused by mail-in voting, except in Florida, where he votes by mail.
Even before the new coronavirus, a 2018 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that vote-by-mail ballots were ten times as likely to get thrown out as voting in person.
A slew of personnel in the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office is charged with running down each voter to see if these errors might be fixed, called “cured,” in time, according to Steve Vancore, spokesman for the Broward Election Supervisor.
Still, Rob Hernandez, 54, of Coral Springs, was surprised to hear from Coral Springs Talk that his name was on the list.
Josette Williams of Coral Springs had heard her son’s mail-in ballot had errors, but someone from the county called, and it’s on its way to being fixed, she said.
Voters can check to see if their mail-in ballot has been counted here.
If you find your mail-in vote has not been counted, election supervisor candidates recommend calling the elections office. You can also go to your local polling place with the problem on Primary Election Day and cast a provisional ballot, said Vancore, elections spokesman.
Chad Klitzman, another candidate for Broward elections supervisor, said he’d like to see ballot envelopes have more explicit instructions, like what he’s seen in Pinellas County.
“You are always going to have errors,” he said. But “… it’s the little things that go a long way in enhancing information in the minds of the voters.”
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- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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