Lee elections supervisor changes future vote-by-mail envelopes after misleading viral video

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Vote-by-mail ballots are shown in sorting trays, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Wash., south of Seattle. Never in U.S. history will so many people exercise the right on which their democracy hinges by marking a ballot at home.

Florida voter Tina Brown posted a video on the internet voicing concerns over the security of voting by mail. It was even retweeted by President Trump.

“I just want to warn all of the people that want to vote by mail,” Brown said. “They tell you ‘Oh, don’t worry, your vote is going to be protected!'”

She pointed out that an identifying letter “D” or “R” is present in the barcode on the absentee ballot envelope you put in the mail or a drop box.

“Nobody is supposed to know what you’re voting for, but yet they put ‘R’ right here and ‘D’ right there,” Brown said. “A postal person could see this if they’re a Democrat and say ‘Oh, that’s an ‘R,’ let’s toss it, let’s just chuck it.”

While it is true that those letters may be on envelopes for primary elections, in which you can only vote for your registered party, envelope and ballot designs vary by jurisdiction.

Tommy Doyle, Lee County supervisor of elections, confirmed the “D” and the “R” are on the Lee County envelopes.

“I had some people complain and I didn’t even realize it either, because it’s never come to our attention,” Doyle said.

He said, however, those letters have never been present for a general election and no longer will be for primaries. He also said not all counties use the letters and suspects changes will be made by other election offices for upcoming elections.

“I found out that we could do it, so we’ll take that information off the envelope and shouldn’t have that complaint again,” Doyle said. “I think you’ll see that around the state of Florida.”

He removed the barcode letters for future elections in part to protect the postal employees and poll workers who are vilified in the video.

“Look at what’s going around at the post office. They’re vilifying the post office every day and so we take that off, it takes that away,” Doyle said. “This has never been a problem. It’s been like that for years and years.”

The Collier County Supervisor of Elections office said the letters have never appeared on their ballot envelopes.

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