Elections supervisor urging vote-by-mail ballots be returned without delay

State law allows such ballots to be counted up to 22 days before Election Day

This is the form on the Supervisor of Elections Office website through which a citizen may request a vote-by-mail ballot. Image from the website

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner is reminding voters who choose to cast their ballots by mail in the Nov. 3 presidential election that voted ballots may be returned by mail or in person.

However, Turner stresses in a news release that the ballots “must be returned in time to reach the elections office by 7 p.m. on election night.”

“For anyone returning by mail, I strongly urge them to vote and return their ballots as soon as possible,” Turner said in the release.

Florida law allows vote-by-mail ballots to be opened and tabulated up to 22 days prior to Election Day, the release points out.

If returning the ballots by mail, Turner notes that the U.S. Postal Service has recommended that domestic voters mail their completed ballots at least one week prior to the Nov. 3 deadline. That means the ballots should be mailed by Tuesday, Oct. 27, the release emphasizes.

Turner also points out that the postage required to return Sarasota County’s two-page, 17-inch ballot by mail is two Forever stamps, or 70 cents.

For voters who would like to return their ballots in person, Turner said secure vote-by-mail drop boxes are available inside all three elections offices — in Sarasota, North Port and Venice — during normal business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; until 6 p.m. on Oct. 5; and from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

During the early voting period (Monday, Oct. 19, through

Sunday, Nov. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily), vote-by-mail ballots also may be returned to secure drop boxes inside all early voting locations throughout the county. For a complete list of early voting dates, times and locations, for the Nov. 3 election, visit SarasotaVotes.com.

Finally, Turner urges voters to read carefully and follow the instructions included with vote-by-mail ballots to ensure their ballots are counted. “Voters should complete and sign the Voter’s Certificate on the ballot return envelope, and the voter’s signature should match the signature on file in the Florida Voter Registration System,” the release says.

A voter may track his or her vote-by-mail ballot at SarasotaVotes.com from the time the request for a ballot is processed until the ballot has been returned to the elections office and tabulated, the release notes. To track a ballot, click on the “Vote by Mail” icon on the home page, select “Track your Vote-by-Mail Ballot,” “and follow the easy instructions,” the release says.

For more information, voters may contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at 941-861-8618.