What happens when you return your mail-in ballot?

Election 2020: Follow the ballot


Mail-in ballots continue to gain popularity as we get closer to the presidential election on Nov. 3. Oct. 24 is the last day registered voters can request a mail-in ballot.

Mike Hogan, the Duval County supervisor of elections, told Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole they will be sending out at least 121,000 mail-in ballots on Sept. 24.

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Hogan walked Cole through the step-by-step process of what happens when your ballot is returned to the supervisor of elections to make sure your vote is counted.

When your ballot arrives at the Duval County supervisor of elections office, it will first be separated from its sleeve.

Hogan told Action News Jax it reveals who the voter is and also the voter’s signature.

Once that’s done, the mail-in ballots go through a machine that will take a picture of the signature.

It can take the picture of up to 20,000 ballots an hour.

“It sends that to our server, which combines it with a program, and that program will go and reach into our voter data records and pull out the signature that we already have on file,” Hogan said.

If you’re wondering where they’re getting your signature, it’s usually going to come from the DMV. When you apply for your driver’s license, the signature on your identification is the first record created of your signature.

Hogan told Cole the signature on your mail-in ballot will then be compared using verifying software.

“If they think the signature is fine, the ballot goes on. The ballot will go on to tabulation,” Hogan told Cole.

If there appears to be something wrong, it goes along to two sets of human eyes for review.

If the signature passes that second test, it will be tabulated.

If that doesn’t suffice, the voter will be notified by phone, email, or regular mail.

So when you’re putting your signature on your mail-in ballot, make sure it’s not the sloppy version you sign at the grocery store.

Hogan also said to to make sure you’re filling out as much information as possible, so if there is a problem officials can contact you as soon as possible.

Once the ballots have been verified, they will be placed in trays of 200, for workers to open.

Then the ballots will be put into machines called tabulators.

They can count up to 300, 11-inch ballots per minute.

“The No. 1 question I get in every election: do you really count the mail ballots? Yes, we really do. They’re first,” said Hogan.

When your ballot is sent out on Sept. 24, Hogan said it should not take any longer than a week to arrive. If you don’t receive anything, don’t wait. Reach out to the supervisor of elections right away.

Here’s a link to the Duval supervisor of elections: https://www.duvalelections.com/