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Thousands of mail-in ballots return undeliverable to Collier County elections office

The Collier County Supervisor of Elections is sending out mail-in ballots, but thousands of them have been returned to the elections office as undeliverable.

Mail-in ballots are already flying into the elections office in Collier County, and Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards said they’re expecting a record year for vote-by-mail.

“As of now, we have about 80,000 ballot requests for this upcoming primary election,” she said. “That’s a 67% increase over the same election four years ago.”

That’s how voter Liz Matt plans to cast her ballot. She did so for the first time back in March for the presidential preference primary.

“The idea that I could log in, prove that it was received, proved that it was logged, and then the fourth step, that it was actually counted,” Matt said. “That meant more to me than worrying about this virus because in March, that wasn’t a big concern.”

Now, it’s a huge concern. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida, Edwards expects more people to vote by mail, but her office is running into a problem as ballots are being returned as undeliverable.

“Yesterday we had over 2,000 that were undeliverable ballots,” Edwards said. “They will forget that they gave us an address, perhaps up north. And this year because of the pandemic, we’re seeing more people staying here instead of going up north.”

And the post office can’t forward the ballots. That means thousands won’t get the chance to make their vote count unless they correct their address.

The Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office has reached out to those with undeliverable ballots and has corrected about a quarter of those addresses.

Aug. 8 is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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