Elections supervisor urges voters to return absentee ballots early

Postal Service has cautioned about how long mail delivery can take

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent. File photo
Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent. File photo

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent is urging voters who choose to vote by mail in the March 15 elections to request, fill out and return their voted ballots as early as possible to avoid mail delays.

The U.S. Postal Service estimates that, under its new delivery standards, the average local first-class mail delivery time could be at least two days, and “mail from locations outside Sarasota County could take up to five days during the busy election season,” a news release says. As a result, Dent recommends that voters mail back their absentee ballots at least five days prior to Election Day to ensure timely delivery, the release adds.

Absentee ballots returned by mail require first-class postage, the release points out. They also may be returned in person, the release continues. Under Florida law, the ballots must reach the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. on election night to be counted, the release stresses. Postmarks do not count, the release adds, and “vote-by-mail ballots may not be left at a precinct” on Election Day. [The emphasis is in the release.]

Dent suggests in the release that, if in doubt, a voter should drop his or her ballot off in person to one of the following three Supervisor of Election Office locations in Sarasota County:

  • The Terrace Building at 2001 Adams Lane in downtown Sarasota.
  • The R.L. Anderson Administration Building at 4000 S. Tamiami Trail in Venice.
  • Biscayne Plaza, located at 13640 Tamiami Trail in North Port.

Requests for absentee ballots to be mailed to a voter must be received by the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, the news release points out.

For more information or assistance, visit www.SarasotaVotes.com or call 861-8600.  To request a vote-by-mail ballot, call 861-8618 or email absentee@sarasotavotes.com. A request may also be submitted online at www.SarasotaVotes.com.