Bay County Elections Supervisor works to ensure mail-in votes are counted correctly

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, early voting has continued through the weekend.

Poll sites are open all the way through Election Day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with more sites opening on Monday.

Bay County Elections Supervisor, Mark Andersen, said on Friday that the biggest challenge so far during this election has been the vote-by-mail situation and ensuring all mail-in ballots are being counted correctly.

“I can tell you right now that we have ballots in there right now that are blank, that people have sent in,” Andersen said. “They did not sign those ballots. If we can’t identify that it’s that voter, we can’t accept that vote-by-mail ballot.” 

He said his staff is doing their best to contact voters who incorrectly submitted their vote-by-mail ballots. According to bayvotes.org, as of 5pm on Friday, more than 11 thousand mail-in ballots had been cast.

For those who have not yet turned them in, he said it’s too late to send them through the mail; instead they should be dropped off, properly-signed, at the polling locations. 

“This is an important signature because that’s what’s going to get your ballot to identify to your file and your record to give the security,” Andersen said. 

Others are deciding to vote in person. Panama City resident, Tracy Brown voted on Friday and said he feels that however people decide to vote, casting the ballot is what counts.

“It’s your way to have your voice heard,” Brown said. “It’s your way to have a change the way you want it.”

Others agree.

“I think everybody that wants to complain about something on Facebook ought to complain about it by voting,” said Karen Knoppel, a Panama City resident who voted by mail. 

Heading into both the primary and general elections, Andersen said he hopes residents remember to stay respectful, especially after an incident that happened on Friday.

He said a 92 year-old man experienced an inappropriate sticker referencing President Trump placed on his car while he was voting.

“The word involved an F word and a T word,” Andersen said. “We don’t need to do that here in Bay County. That’s not how we are, we’re respectful.”

He said he hopes residents continue to respect others, bringing their concerns to the ballot box either by mail or in person.

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