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Duval County Early, By-Mail Voting On Track To Top 50 Percent Of Ballots Cast

Kayla Davis
Duval Elections Supervisor talks with WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo on the first day of early voting.

Sixty-five hundred Duval County voters cast ballots at early voting locations before lunchtime Monday, the first day of early voting in Florida. That’s in contrast to the 2,400 early votes cast on the entire first day of early voting in the August primary.

Duval’s 18 early voting locations were so busy Monday morning that Election Supervisor Mike Hogan says this will likely be the year Duval surpasses 50 percent of votes cast by mail or early, in person.

“And this is a very important time to vote early because we know that Election Day is going to be heavy,” he said.  

That’s because of the high level of interest in the presidential contest and other races, he says.

Jacksonville residents can vote any day through Sunday, Nov. 6, leaving one day off before Nov. 8.

“And that’s a hazard. It doesn’t give my folks much time to turn around and get ready for Election Day,” Hogan said.

He says he might cut the final Sunday of early voting next time if the transition proves too difficult. All other Northeast Florida counties stop early voting on Saturday, Nov. 5.

But for now, Hogan says, the biggest voting problem he’s heard about so far is people are forgetting to vote on amendments on the backside of the ballot.

Once you turn in a ballot, it’s too late to change anything about it, he says, so be sure to read both sides all the way through.

building exterior
Credit Kayla Davis
The Election Center on Jacksonville's Northside is where the supervisor's office sets up its "war room" on Election Day. It's also where ballots are sent from precincts, where machines are stored, and where call center workers take questions about voting.

Voters with questions about voting in Duval County should check the Supervisor of Elections websiteor call 904-630-1414. And here's a full list of early voting locations in Northeast Florida. 

More Vote-By-Mail Ballots Could Be Counted

Thanks to a recent federal ruling, Florida absentee voters will now have a chance to get their votes counted when the signature on their mail-in ballot doesn’t match the one on file with their county.

A judge recently ruled ballots with mismatched signatures cannot simply be thrown out, as was the practice before.

Now, when mismatches are found, voters will be asked to affirm they did in fact sign their ballot — but Duval County Election Supervisor Mike Hogan says he’s not sure that’s the best process either.

“They have to send in an affidavit that that is them, a copy of their picture ID, and they have to sign it. And what I’m concerned with, if the signature has to match, and they’ve already given me a bad signature, what have I gained? It seems like a circle,” he said.

Hogan says, nonetheless, he’s expediting the signature-review process to comply with the ruling and give people a chance to rectify problems. Instead of going through three levels of verification, signatures will now be designated as matches or mismatches after reviews by two different staffers.

The final step—going before the county canvassing board—will be cut. That way, voters can be notified sooner if there’s a problem. 

Contact Jessica Palombo at 904-358-6315, or on Twitter at @JessicaPubRadio.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP