Inside the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office: How vote by mail ballots are counted

Mail-in ballot voting is "down to a science."

Jacksonville, Fla. — One of the biggest misconceptions about mail-in voting is that the ballots aren’t counted unless the race is too close to call. The fact is mail-in ballots are the first to be counted because they’re the first ones to come in.

“We convey the voice of the people by providing fair, accurate and accessible elections with transparency and integrity”. Those are the first words you see before going inside the supervisor of elections office.

After they took our temperature at the door, we walked in to where all the action happens.

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Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan showed us where workers were already starting to count mail-in votes that were coming in during the ongoing primary.

Hogan must be present as the count takes place. The ballots that made it into the counting room have been verified by their signature.

But if a ballot cannot be verified employees take another step.

“We send a notice to them. Hopefully, they give us their phone number and their email address on the envelope. That envelope is not a public record, so I don’t have to give that number to anybody,” said Hogan.

Mail-in voting is nothing new.

Hogan said his office has been doing it for years for those who can’t physically make it to the polls, for example, military personnel overseas.

“In the past mail ballots was called absentee ballots as the laws have changed, right now, it’s a convenience,” said Hogan.

Hogan said there are some setbacks with mail-in voting.

“They are just so many transactions with a mail ballot,” said Hogan.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust it but if you’re still on the fence, there’s something else you can do.

“They can drop it off at the 18 early voting sites and 24/7 at our main office

If you vote by mail you can track your ballot online by visiting DuvalElections.com.