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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Voting from home: how to successfully fill out a mail-in ballot

Vote by mail

With rising concerns of contracting COVID-19 from in-person voting, Alachua County voters may find themselves wanting to make their voices heard from home through mail-in ballots.

Voting by mail is a popular option for voters this year, as the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office reports more than 31,000 mail-in ballots were already counted as of Oct. 16.

Voters must renew their mail-in ballot request every two general elections, according to state statutes. Mail-in ballots can be requested on the county supervisor of elections’ website until Oct. 24. They can take five to six days to arrive but can also be picked up from the supervisor of elections office, located at 515 N Main St., with a picture and signature ID. 

Instructions on how to fill it out will arrive with the ballot. The ovals next to the intended candidate must be filled completely. If a voter makes a mistake, they should request a new ballot. 

The next step is to seal the ballot in the return envelope provided and sign the voter's certificate on the back of the envelope. Voters should use the same signature shown on their government-issued ID or the supervisor of elections’ office may invalidate the ballot. Including the secrecy sleeve, another envelope meant to protect the integrity of the ballot, is recommended but will not stop a ballot from being counted.

Mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, so voters should send them back as soon as possible. While most voters will send their ballots through the mail, there are other options available. Ballots can be dropped off at the supervisor of elections’ office before Election Day. Drop boxes will also be available outside early voting locations until Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

After the ballot is dropped off or sent back to the supervisor of elections’ office, its status can be tracked online. This is the most accurate way to ensure that your ballot is received and counted.

The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office can be contacted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 352-374-5252. Residents who speak Spanish can call toll free at 833-875-0365. Information about vote-by-mail can also be obtained by emailing votebymail@alachuacounty.us.

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Alan Halaly

Alan Halaly is the Metro desk editor and a second-year journalism major. He spent this past summer reporting for the Miami New Times and his first two semesters in college on The Alligator’s Metro desk covering city and county affairs. Above all, he’s passionate about bringing Gainesville’s hidden stories to UF’s campus. 


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