Vans in parking lots: The newest way to return your ballot in Palm Beach County

·4 min read

Voters in Palm Beach County can avoid the uncertainty that comes with dropping a ballot in the mail. Instead, they can drop it in a van.

Starting Monday, 25 leased vans will be staged in parking lots across Palm Beach County. Inside, county elections employees will be ready to accept completed vote-by-mail ballots. The vans will sit in parking lots at early voting locations and other spots — an attractive option for those worried about coronavirus germs and slow mail.

In Florida, even if a voter mails a ballot well ahead of Election Day, if it doesn’t arrive at the elections office by 7 p.m. Nov. 3, it won’t be counted.

President Donald Trump has stoked fears that an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots will overwhelm the United States Postal System.

Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Wendy Sartory Link said the vans are wrapped with elections signage. Voters should familiarize themselves with the look of the vans, and take care not to hand their ballot over to anyone else. Her employees will be in uniform.

“We want to make it easy for voters to drop their ballots off before Election Day,” she said.

The more ballots that come in ahead of Nov. 3, the more prepared elections officials can be to deliver a timely result. Florida law allows elections offices to process the mailed ballots ahead of time. That work got under way in Palm Beach County over the weekend.

Voters can also drop ballots at elections offices, or even an Election Day polling place, but Link said having the vans available for ballot drops limits the number of people gathered together in one area — a key concern because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third most populous county in Florida, Palm Beach County will handle a gigantic trove of mailed ballots. Already, more than 450,000 mail-in ballots were requested by voters in Palm Beach County. And more than a third of them have been voted on and delivered back to Link’s office.

On Nov. 3, an elections office crew will dispatch to the postal facility on Summit Boulevard in Palm Beach County at 6:45 p.m. to retrieve the last pile of mailed ballots so they can be counted.

In Broward County, voters can drop a ballot at the elections office at the Lauderhill Mall, 1501 NW 40th Ave. in Lauderhill, or on the Brickell Street side of the elections headquarters in downtown Fort Lauderdale, 115. S. Andrews Ave.

Starting Monday, Broward voters can drop ballots at any of the 22 early voting locations, spokesman Steve Vancore said.

Any registered voter in Florida can vote by mail. The deadline to request a mailed ballot from your county elections office is 5 p.m. on Oct. 24. To make that request in Palm Beach County, call the elections office at 561-656-6208 or go online to pbcelections.org. Early, in-person voting is another option, starting Monday.

The ballot vans will accept ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations starting Oct. 19:

Belle Glade Branch Library, 725 NW Fourth St., Belle Glade

Supervisor of Elections West County Branch Office, 2976 State Road #15, Second Floor, Belle Glade

West Boca Branch Library, 18685 State Road 7, Boca Raton

Spanish River Library, 1501 NW Spanish River Blvd., Boca Raton

Florida Atlantic University, Housing & Residential Education, 777 Glades Road Room 109, Boca Raton

Sugar Sand Park Community Center, 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton

West Boynton Beach Branch Library, 9451 Jog Road, Boynton Beach

Ezell Hester Community Center, 1901 N. Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach

Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library, 14350 Hagen Ranch Road, Delray Beach

Delray Beach Community Center, 50 NW First Ave., Delray Beach

South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach

Greenacres Community Center, 501 Swain Blvd., Greenacres

Juno Beach Town Center, 340 Ocean Drive, Juno Beach

Jupiter Community Center, 200 Military Trail, Jupiter

Osborne Community Center, 1699 Wingfield St., Lake Worth

Lantana Road Branch Library, 4020 Lantana Road, Lake Worth

Acreage Branch Library, 15801 Orange Blvd., Loxahatchee

Loula V. York Branch Library, 525 Bacom Point Road, Pahokee

Gardens Branch Library, 11303 Campus Drive, Palm Beach Gardens

Wells Rec Community Center, 2409 Avenue H West, Riviera Beach

Royal Palm Beach Town Hall, 1050 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Royal Palm Beach

Wellington Branch Library, 1951 Royal Fern Drive, Wellington

Main Library, 3650 Summit Blvd., West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach City Hall Flagler Gallery, 401 Clematis St., West Palm Beach

Okeechobee Boulevard Branch Library, 5689 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

South Olive Community Center, 345 Summa St., West Palm Beach

Brittany Wallman can be reached at bwallman@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4541. Find her on Twitter @BrittanyWallman

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