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As election officials in Alachua and Marion counties urge people to vote from home in the upcoming 2020 primary and general elections, requests for ballots are on the rise.
TJ Pyche, the director of communications and outreach at the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, said the county has been encouraging people to register to vote by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a secure option. It’s a safe option. We want people to use the option that works best for them,” he said. “So, we believe during the upcoming election, both in August and November, for many people, voting by mail will be that best option.”
Pyche explained that the more people who vote by mail, the easier it will be to enforce social distancing guidelines at polling places on election days.
“It’s advantageous both that folks don’t have to go there to those sites and also that we are still able to get their vote counted,” he said.
Through mailers and TV and radio advertisements that advise people to vote from home, the county has received more than 40,000 mail ballot requests so far. According to Pyche, the number of requests is higher than in any past election in the county.
Wesley Wilcox, the supervisor of elections in Marion County, has been pushing a similar message to voters. The county has launched social media campaigns and made press releases to dispel some misconceptions about voting by mail.
“There are a certain set of constant myths around the election industry that vote-by-mail ballots aren’t counted, which is absolutely false. They’re only done if they’re needed, which once again is false,” he said. “So we’re constantly educating those and explaining to them the realities that vote by mail are literally the first ballots that get processed in an election as related to any of the other methods.”
Wilcox reports that mail-in ballot requests were about 20% to 30% higher than usual in June, amounting to 8,000 to 10,000 requests just last month.
According to a Gallup poll taken in April, 64% of Americans favor their state allowing all voters to vote by mail. A majority of people across all age groups favor the idea.
Polling places for the primary election in Alachua and Marion counties will be open Aug. 18 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The deadline to register for the 2020 primary election is July 20.
The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot to be mailed in Marion and Alachua counties for the primary election is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m.
For more information about election dates and deadlines, go to https://www.votemarion.gov/Election-Info/Election-Dates for Marion County and https://www.votealachua.com/Elections/Upcoming-Elections for Alachua County.