SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - With 46 days until the November election, hundreds of thousands of voters have already requested their vote by mail ballot in both Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
Friday, both Suncoast counties began to send out those ballots to voters overseas and in the military. On Thursday, Sept. 24 vote by mail ballots will be sent out domestically. Voters have until October 24th to request a mail in ballot.
Manatee County Supervisors of Elections Office is preparing to send out about 125,000 vote by mail ballots Thursday for the general election. But, the county’s Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett predicts there will be anywhere between 5,000 to 7,000 more request before election day. Although the last day to mail in a ballot is Oct. 27, Bennett urges people to get them in sooner so they can fix problems like an unmatched signature.
“When we get them in where people forget to sign them, or we can’t make out their signature, that’s the reason we push so hard for people to mail them in early. So we have time to react and catch them and contact people and say, hey look we have a problem with your signature, or no signature,” said Bennett.
He goes on to say requesting a vote by mail ballot is a good safety net for voters, giving them another option on how to vote.
“Even if you decide you’re not going to do it, take it with you to the precinct when you go, turn it in get a new ballot and vote that way. But get that free insurance policy,” said Bennett.
In Manatee County, voters can either mail in their ballots, hand them in person into their Supervisor of Elections Office, or put them in early voting drop boxes. In Sarasota County voters can do the same plus starting October 19th they have the ability to drop off their vote by mail ballot at a drive thru location.
“I call that the ultimate social distancing experience you can just drive through, roll down your window, and just drop off the ballot and just keep on trucking down the road. So we’re trying to give plenty of options for voters,” said Sarasota County’s Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner.
Turner said they are sending out 143,000 vote by mail ballots Thursday, which is a record for any election in Sarasota County.
“My prediction or thought is at least half of the turn out in the general election will likely be by mail,” Turner said.