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Elections Supervisors cautioning voters of delay in election results due to increase in mail-in ballots

Leon County voters use new drop boxes to cast mail in ballots early
Leon County voters use new drop boxes to cast mail in ballots early(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 1:47 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Common Cause and Florida Elections Supervisors are cautioning voters that election night may not be “results night” in Florida.

Ben Winston with polling firm Strategies 360 found that many voters are still expecting results on election night or within 24 hours, but with millions of mail-in ballots expected this year,  it could take longer to tabulate votes.

Election Supervisors from Leon and Marion counties stressed that all election night tallies are “unofficial” and they are not required to submit their unofficial totals to the state until noon on Saturday, November 7.

Marion County Elections Supervisor and president-elect of the Florida Supervisors of Elections Association, Wesley Wilcox,  says the size of the county can greatly influence the time it takes to process mail in ballots.  In smaller counties like Lafayette County,  he said, with about 4,400 voters, they may be able to post mail ballot totals soon after 7 p.m., but in counties like Miami-Dade, with 1.5 million voters, it could take much longer.   

He likened it to an election night “traffic jam.”

“Our job is getting it right,” Leon County Elections Supervisor Mark Earley said, not trying to satisfy demands for “instantaneous results.”

Earley said they have already started counting mail-in ballots in Leon County and in many counties across the state.

Both supervisors cautioned that the timeline for results could look different this year because of the volume of mail in ballots and challenges of the pandemic.

Earley said in Leon County, voters would not be turned away for not wearing masks, but would be strongly encouraged to wear them as a courtesy to poll workers.

Both supervisors expect Florida’s election results to be closely watched nationally, given Florida’s history of close presidential elections.

Earley said voters should not to equate the longer tabulation period, or any recounts, as indicators of any problems.

“It means it’s close,” Earley said. “We need to make sure it’s accurate.”

Neither supervisor could pinpoint when voters could expect to know the winners, but said to pay close attention to the percentage of votes tabulated to put any projections in context.

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