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How safe are votes cast in Collier County?

Local Supervisor of Elections showed Fox 4 the protections that go into the vote-by-mail process ahead of the upcoming Presidential Primary and general elections.
Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 19:02:08-05

NAPLES, Fla. — We are well into another presidential election year, and without fail, every time many of you have questions about voting by mail and if those votes really do count.

In Collier County, the Supervisor of Elections says yes, those votes count, thanks to the security measures found in Collier and only a few other counties in Florida.

It's called the Ballot Tracker, and officials say it cuts the time needed to sort ballots nearly in half.

"We're one of a few counties in the state of Florida that operate this equipment," said Supervisor of Elections Melissa Blazier. "What that equipment does is it takes a picture of the back of that ballot return envelope. That way we can pull that image up on a computer screen and pull up the voters' records and compare their signatures."

The security that's so important here, is being able to limit as much human interaction with ballots as possible, after you voted on one. However, this system can't eliminate "all" human interaction, due to the law.

"By law, all of our staff that do signature verification on vote-by-mail ballot envelopes are required to take signature verification training," said Blazier. "We have over a dozen of our staff, should we need to use a dozen staff to verify signatures, who have taken that training, and who are qualified to review signatures."

Blazier says more than 20,000 people in Collier County requested a mail-in-ballot so far, for the Presidential Preference Primary on March 19, and more than 50% of them have already returned theirs.

"You have this 'insurance policy', the vote by mail ballot with you, you can take your time you can sit at your coffee table at the dinner table. You know, research candidates go through your ballot at your own pace," said Blazier.

The deadline this year is two days earlier than in years past to request, so Blazier says the last day to request a mail-in ballot is March 7.

You can track Collier County's voter turnout statistics here.