LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A ballot blunder could keep your vote from counting in the upcoming primary election. A new envelope design is forcing the return of some absentee ballots back to Lee County voters. They should be going to election's officials for processing.
The tiny bar code at the top of the ballot return envelopes is behind the mess. Mail sorting machines are reading the envelope's return bar code, instead of it's destination... potentially leaving some absentee ballots in limbo.
Phil Douglas didn't think twice about sending off his absentee ballot in the mail last week.
"I signed the ballot on the back, I took it to the Estero post office and low and behold, on Monday I got it back!" Douglas said Wednesday.
Frustrated and confused, Douglas tried to send his vote again, taking his ballot to the Three Oaks Parkway post office... only to find it returned to his mailbox for the second time in a week.
"The first thing that came to mind was, hey, this can't happen. But it did," Douglas said.
It could be happening across Lee County. Over 40,000 absentee ballots were requested, and all sent out with the same faulty return envelope design. Lee County Elections officials are working with USPS on the problem. Still, the ballot blunder is a sorespot for many, who are trying to make their vote count in the upcoming election.
"What bothered me is it's not the first time we've had mail-in ballots. Why now at this point are we having all these problems?" said Earl Carlson, who also had his absentee ballot returned on Tuesday.
Mail carriers are now hand-sorting ballot envelopes from here on out. But as for Douglas, he's not taking another chance. He delivered his ballot to elections officials himself.
"Hand-delivered it. Gave it to them...and I feel like it'll get there," Douglas said.
The problematic envelope design is only being used in Lee County. The new design was approved by both USPS and Lee County Elections Office this year.