Vote-by-mail ballots on way to Gainesville voters

Vote here sign on glass window
Vote here sign on glass window

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton announced her office mailed more than 19,000 domestic vote-by-mail ballots this week for the Gainesville City Commission special runoff election next month.

A Nov. 16 special election to replace former Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson proved inconclusive after no candidate achieved the required 50 percent to avoid a runoff. Candidate Cynthia Moore Chestnut earned 46.06 percent of the vote against Matt Howland, who earned 41.28 percent of the 11,725 votes cast. 

The special election came after Johnson announced her resignation on Aug. 23, only months after she was elected to a second three-year term.

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Voters who signed up to receive a vote-by-mail ballot should expect to receive their ballots, which will arrive in a pink envelope, no later than Jan. 5, according to the elections office. Any voter who does not receive a vote-by-mail ballot by then should contact the elections office at 352-374-5252 or email votebymail@alachuacounty.us.

The elections office reported mailing or emailing more than 500 ballots to domestic and overseas military personnel and overseas voters last week.

The elections office has set a 5 p.m., Jan. 15, deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the election, which is set for Jan. 25.

Voters can also request mail-in ballots at VoteAlachua.com, by calling 352-374-5252, by mail, or in-person at the elections office.

Requests must be made by the voter or an immediate family member, and must include the voter’s date of birth and Florida driver’s license number or Florida ID card number, or last four digits of social security number.

The supervisor of elections must receive vote-by-mail ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day (Tuesday, Jan. 25), in order to be counted.

Supervisor of Elections Barton encouraged voters who plan to vote by mail to complete their ballots and send them in no later than a week prior to Election Day, to ensure ballots reach the office by the deadline. Voters should also make sure that their voter information and signature are updated before they return their ballot if they have moved or their signature has changed.

Barton also offered voters the following advice for filling in ballots: 

  • Completely color in the oval next to your choice on your ballot — do not circle or mark an “X” over the oval.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, call the elections office at 352-374-5252.
  • Be sure to sign your own mail ballot certificate envelope.
  • Return your mail ballot in the official envelope provided. Return postage is prepaid.

Any voter who does not sign their ballot or whose signature on the vote-by-mail ballot certificate does not compare to the signature in their voter record will be contacted by the elections office and provided the opportunity to correct the ballot. According to Florida law, voters have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 27 to complete an affidavit to correct a vote-by-mail ballot.

Starting Sunday, Jan. 16, voters may authorize another person to pick up a vote-by-mail ballot from the Supervisor of Elections office. A designee must have a note signed by the voter and a picture ID. They must also complete an affidavit, which is available online.

Designees may not pick up more than two mail ballots per election, excluding their own ballot and ballots for their immediate family.

Voters can drop off completed vote-by-mail ballots at the elections office (515 N. Main St., 3rd Floor) during normal business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Mail-in ballot drop boxes will be available at the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office and at Millhopper Branch Library during early voting, which runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, through Sunday, Jan. 23.

Once early voting has ended, the mail-in drop box will only be available at the elections office during the following days and times:

  • Monday, January 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (office hours)
  • Tuesday, January 25 (Election Day) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (same hours as voting at the precincts)

For more information, contact the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office at 352-374-5252.

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