(WSVN) - Florida is always a crucial swing state in presidential elections, but what makes this year different is the number of mail-in ballots, and thousands of them are rejected in every election. 7’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
In Florida, races can come down to razor thin margins.
In 2018, after millions of Floridians cast their ballots, Republican Rick Scott defeated Democrat Bill Nelson for a U.S. Senate seat by just 10,033 votes.
And who can ever forget the election in the year 2000 when George Bush beat Al Gore in Florida by only 537 votes.
An indication that every vote can be critical, but in reality, does every vote count?
Dr. Daniel Smith, University of Florida: “The problem is we have upwards of 100 times more likelihood of having a ballot rejected if you’re voting by mail than if you’re voting in person.”
Daniel Smith with the University of Florida says in the past two presidential elections, more than 20,000 people in Florida who voted by mail had their ballots rejected.
Daniel Smith: “Can it make a difference? Absolutely. Republicans and Democrats are equally susceptible to having their ballots not count because of delays to the postal delivery, or because you have made an error of not signing correctly or forgetting to sign.”
In the 2016 presidential election, 4,015 mail-in ballots were rejected in Miami-Dade County alone.
More than half of them were rejected because the voter did not sign the ballot.
Christina White, Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections: “It’s very easy to vote by mail, but you have to sign it, and the signature has to match.”
During that same election in Broward County, 1,723 mail-in ballots were rejected.
Again, the vast majority were rejected because of no signature.
Peter Antonacci, Broward County Supervisor of Elections: “As soon as you get your ballot, fill it out, make your choices known, sign your ballot and get it in quickly.”
Supervisors of elections in both Broward and Miami-Dade say despite those numbers, voting by mail is still a good option if you don’t want to vote in person.
Christina White: “Trust the process. I believe it is safe and secure.”
To ensure your ballot counts, follow the instructions and sign it.
It’s also a good idea to fill out the contact information section, so if there’s a problem with your ballot, someone can reach you, and the sooner you vote by mail, the better.
Peter Antonacci: “Bring it on! Send it to me! I want to have it as quickly as possible, so we can do what needs to be done to make sure it counts.”
In Florida, mail-in ballots are counted as soon as they are received, so after you send in your ballot, you can go online to make sure it was counted. We have the links below.
This is just one of the stories the 7 Investigates team is looking into about safe and accurate voting.
Karen Hensel is already investigating cyber criminals who are trying to undermine our faith in a free and fair process.
Coming up Tuesday on 7News at 10 p.m., how to spot and stop the spread of disinformation.
And if you have anything election-related you want Karen and me to investigate, we want to hear from you.
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