“To put it in perspective, in 2016, the entire vote by mail ballots cast in the general election was about 68,000."By Andrea Alvarez

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Pasco County set a record for most vote-by-mail ballots in county history. It’s not too late to submit a request to be included in vote-by-mail.

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley reassures Florida voters that voting by mail is another safe option this season ahead of the November 3rd  General Elections. “We’ve been doing No Excuse, Vote By Mail since 2002,” said Corley. “So we’re in a good place without vote-by-mail processing and tabulation.”

But what makes this year different is the amount of ballots expected to come back via mail. Thursday, Corley’s office says they mailed out over 130,000 vote-by-mail ballots representing about a third of their entire voter roll, making it a historic year.  “To put it in perspective, in 2016, the entire vote by mail ballots cast in the general election was about 68,000. We are sending out 130,000 requests and that’s only the mass mailing. We’re going to keep getting requests through into a good chunk of October.”

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They’re also breaking records with the number of early voting days. “We are going to start on October 19th and run through the 31st. We’ve expanded locations. We’re using gymnasiums.” And it has mostly to do with the pandemic.  “We’re still going to have in-person voting, we’ll have safety measures but, you know, because some of the social distancing guidelines, for example, and the expected turnout, there’s going to be lines and waits at early voting election day,” said Corley.

But the important part isn’t over. “7:00 pm on election day, that ballot has to be back to our office. You can drop it off a myriad of ways. You can, of course, mail it back,” said Corley. “So don’t delay! Don’t wait until two days before and mail it. It’s too important. I would say, you know, give it about at least a week and you can track it, and if we don’t get it back in time you can certainly go to an election day polling place on election day.”

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Corley says you cannot return it to an election day polling place. But if you aren’t someone who requested a vote-by-mail ballot, he has some advice for you too. “We’re doing everything we can but voters need to be a little understanding and patient. It’s a pandemic. And it’s a very expected historic turnout so that’s a recipe for a little bit of a wait time. But if there’s something worth waiting for, I think we’d all agree, voting is it,” he said.

As a reminder, the ballot must be back in the supervisor of elections office by 7:00 pm on election day or the vote will not be counted. You can mail it back in advance or drop it off at an early voting location.

Voters still have time to request vote-by-mail ballots by using the online request form at PascoVotes.gov.

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