Absentee ballots flying out at record pace

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 9:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 9:39 p.m.

The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections received a record number of absentee ballot requests this year, with 32,220 requests as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Halloween was the deadline for voters to ask for an absentee ballot to be mailed to them, Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter said.

The office has received a little over 19,000 absentee ballots, 27 of which had envelopes with no signature, she said.

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While voters can no longer request that an absentee ballot get mailed to them, they can still go to the Supervisor of Elections office and pick one up.

Voters also can go to the three early voting sites in Alachua County, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., through Saturday.

Carpenter said the record increase in absentee ballot requests was probably a result of encouragement by both the Democratic and Republican parties to vote by mail as well as the length of the ballot. With a long ballot this year, many people may wish to look it over at home rather than feel rushed at the polls on Election Day.

Carpenter said it is important for voters to take their time when signing the absentee ballot envelope to ensure they use the same signature they used when they registered to vote. The office uses that initial signature to verify a voter's ballot.

Some voters will sign their name carefully when they register to vote, spelling all the letters out, but then sign their ballot with what she calls a "Zorro signature," such as one of just a letter and a scribbled line, that they typically use when signing a credit card receipt.

"We really want to make sure that every eligible vote is counted," she said. "If the Zorro signature is what they signed when they registered to vote, then they need to take the time and write out their Zorro signature on the back of the ballot."

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com.

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