Wakulla County voter frustrated with mystery mail-in ballots

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:29 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Like many regions across the country, Wakulla County is seeing a surge in voters deciding to vote early, either in person or via a mail-in ballot.

By all accounts, the process has gone smoothly for most Wakulla County voters, but not all.

Victor Sawner is a former Marine who usually waits until Election Day to cast a ballot. The pandemic hadn’t changed his plan. He was a registered voter, but planned to wait for November 3.

So when Sawner discovered a ballot inside his mailbox in September, he wasn’t sure what to do.

“I was concerned,” he said.

Sawner says he took the ballot to the Supervisor of Elections office, where he was told someone had requested a ballot be sent to his home address, but couldn’t say who.

They canceled the mailed ballot. Life went on. But then another mystery.

“A couple of weeks later, I received another mail-in ballot,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow!’.”

Sawner says he ignored the ballot this time. He decided to clear things up and cast a vote early in person. When he arrived, he was told he couldn’t vote unless he returned with his mailed ballot.

He said he was asked to return both ballots to help the office solve the mystery. Sawner made copies, wanting to keep a paper trail of what was happening.

“Someone had to call them with enough information to get a ballot sent to my house,” he said.

WCTV reached out to the SOE office Thursday, but they were unable to talk on camera. A representative answered several questions via email.

The office said no one receives a ballot without requesting one, as is required by Florida law.

It remains unclear why Sawner received a ballot.

Sawner said he will try to vote Tuesday, and plans to make some noise if he can’t.

“If I’m told I can’t vote, then you can interview me from the county jail because it’s my understanding if you get loud or cause a disruption they’re going to pick you up," he said.

WCTV also talked with a woman from Sopchoppy who said it took two requests to receive her mailed ballot. She believes it was a postal service error, but said she was able to cast her ballot eventually.

The Supervisor of Elections representative said that voters can ask for second ballots in that situation, although the deadline has passed for the SOE to mail any more ballots. Voters need to stop by the office to pick up a ballot in order for it to count by Nov. 3.

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