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Earlier this week, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to go to the polls on election day and “watch very carefully.”
Some Florida elections supervisors say that suggestion is very different from an established system of certifying poll watchers for election day.
Pasco County Elections Supervisor Brian Corley said political parties and other groups often certify observers, but there are rules.
“Poll watchers are there legally and they can’t just show up as the president alluded to, or said. they have to be put in and there’s a deadline before election day or early voting. And they are an elector of the county, and we sign off and approve them. And they are given credentials.”
He said poll watchers are not allowed to interact with voters at the polls.
And if the observer – or anyone else – interferes with voting in or near a poll on election day, Corley says Sheriff’s deputies will remove them.
Corley was a guest Thursday on The State We’re In – a Facebook Live show from WMFE and WUSF, along with Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Julie Marcus and WMFE reporter Joe Byrnes.
A record number of Floridians are expected to use vote-by-mail for the general election, and most have seen the ballots show up in their mailbox in the past few days.
Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Julie Marcus says while there’s no need to rush and return them right away, there is an absolute deadline.
Her office – and election workers across the state – must have the ballots in their hands by 7 p.m. on November 3rd.
“And there are a lot of voters who want to wait until the Monday before an election or on election day itself, that’s fine,” said Marcus.
“Just make sure you are not a nano past the deadline ok, because we want to make sure those ballots count.”
She suggests people wanting to mail in the ballot send it at least a week early – October 27th.
Better, Marcus said, early voting sites in counties across Florida are serving as drop off locations.
To see the full conversation with Marcus, Pasco County Election’s Supervisor Brian Corley and WMFE reporter Joe Byrnes, visit The State We’re In Facebook page.
The State We’re In is part of America Amplified, a national reporting initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.