What To Do If You Receive a Vote-By-Mail Ballot You Didn’t Request?
Bottom Line: That’s definitely one that makes you go hmm. For multiple reasons. In light of the vote-by-mail ballot palooza of 2020, when nine states flooded mailboxes of voters with ballots, whether they requested them or not, Florida tightened up its policies pertaining to vote-by-mail ballots. That makes your account, which is the first of its kind I’ve heard about this cycle, that much more surprising. With early voting getting underway in parts South Florida today (Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County specifically), and with Florida’s primary election day just over two weeks away, it’s a good time to address your issue along with any related questions about voting which might crop up. In the case of what you’ve described, receiving a vote-by-mail ballot you didn’t request, for a party you’re not registered to – I first recommend doing what anyone who has questions with their voter registration status should do. Look it up.
While most Supervisors of Elections have the function available on their own websites, the Florida Division of Elections has a super quick and easy link for any Floridian to check their status. It literally doesn’t take more than 30 seconds to do this. That’s the first and the biggest tell as to if your records are right with the state as you’ll see registration status including your party of registration. From there, if you see an error, there’s a link to be able to quickly update your information online. Now the rub at this stage of the cycle, is that if for some reason you’re not registered to the party you thought you were registered to, the update you request won’t be effective for the August primaries. The change would be in effect for future cycles. Now, if your voter registration information is correct, and you’re still trying to figure out why you have a vote-by-mail ballot – you didn’t request for a party you’re not registered to. Look that up as well. Every Supervisor of Elections office has the ability for you to track the status of your ballot. You’ll be able to see if one’s been issued. The status update for vote-by-mail ballots shows the progress of these four steps:
- Request (having been made)
- Sent (showing if the ballot has been sent from the supervisor’s office)
- Received (this shows if a voted ballot has been received by a supervisor’s office)
- Counted (if the vote has been tabulated)
This is straightforward. If you see a process underway with a ballot you didn’t request – there's a problem and you should contact your election supervisor’s office to explain the problem. Additionally, should you suspect something nefarious took place, reporting the incident to the Florida Division of Elections would be appropriate as well. Florida now has a new Election Crimes and Security Office to investigate potential election shenanigans. If this were to have happened to you, the upshot, provided that your voter registration status is correct, is that a vote-by-mail ballot may be cancelled and an in-person ballot issued for in-person voting – both for early and Election Day voting. Just bring the ballot with you when you go to vote. Now, if all of your voter registration information is correct, and if you don’t see a vote-by-mail ballot having been officially issued to you – what this may be is a somewhat slick marketing trick.
For years liberal interest groups have targeted South Floridians with everything from handwritten letters explaining why they should vote for certain democrats – to nasty grams about various republicans. I’ve also seen/heard about mock ballots which essentially tell you who you should vote for. This is not unlike what many interest groups do which attempt to hand voters party line votes outside of polling places – which is one of the main reasons Florida also expanded the distance from the polling locations interest groups may operate within to at least 150 feet. I wouldn’t be surprised if this what you’ve come across. It's unfortunate there are those who seek to confuse voters, but it happens. I’ve tracked down hired Soras hands from the West Coast sending out these types of materials in past cycles. In addition to all of the steps I’ve mentioned, for you and anyone else who is leery of what you’ve received in the mail, feel free to take a picture of it and email it to me. I’m always willing to look into potentially credible claims of election shenanigans.
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