The Monroe County Board of Elections is bracing for a huge voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election.
“This far in 2020, we have received 25,122 new registrants.” said Democratic Monroe County Board of Elections Commissioner Jackie Ortiz.
Monroe County’s Board of Elections is swamped and its commissioners bring the public up to speed, including the newly appointed Jackie Ortiz and Deputy Commissioner Natalie Sheppard.
They say, as of Thursday at 5 p.m., they’ve received almost 95,500 applications to vote via absentee ballot.
“From the 2016 presidential election, that’s almost quadruple and from our primary, that’s almost double. And we still have about a month left for people to continue to request absentee ballots," said Sheppard.
To keep up, the BOE has expanded its hours, added mandatory overtime and will have workers on the clock seven days a week.
The staff has increased by 20 people and an additional 22 will be added, with their training to begin this weekend.
Spectrum News caught up with Carlos Matos at the BOE office as he changed his address and applied for an absentee ballot. He spoke to Spectrum News in Spanish with the assistance of a BOE interpreter.
“He said he relocated with his daughter from his previous address and he wants to come in to vote today for the general election but he’s doing it by absentee,” said the interpreter.
The first batch of absentee ballots for Monroe County went out on Thursday. That’s more than 37,000 absentee ballots. And then early next week, another 30 to 40,000 absentee ballots will also go in the mail.
“The post office is working, but it is delayed and it is slow and I don’t want to beat up on the post office, but if you are concerned or if you don’t get your application in timely or your ballot timely, come to early voting,” said Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay.
Early voting begins on October 24 at 12 polling locations in the county, where officials say COVID-19 safety precautions will be taken.
“It is a great way to vote in person, cast your ballot, watch it go in the machine, know for sure that you saw it happen, your vote definitely counted," said Nicolay.
For Carlos Matos, he knows his vote will count, because right after changing his address and filling out the application for a ballot, he received his actual ballot and cast his vote. It's something he only does once every four years during the presidential elections.
“It’s not hard, no, he said, it’s easy," said Matos.
“We want all who want to participate to easily be able to do so," said Ortiz.