Manatee voters requested a record number of absentee ballots

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 11, 2012 

MANATEE -- A record number of absentee ballots were mailed out locally during this year's general election, with 50,956 voters requesting them, officials said Monday.

In 2008, the number was 41,533.

Of all the absentee ballots received by elections officials, 45,767 were accepted and 103 were rejected for various reasons, according to Sharon Stief, chief deputy for the Manatee County supervisor of Eelections office.

"The most common reasons were a lot had not signed them; that seemed to be the most common one of all," said Bob Sweat, county supervisor of elections.

"We had a few people, I believe, that possibly the signature had changed, and we had to notify them to update their signature card."

"Some look like hen scratching," he added.

Nearly 2.4 million people across Florida voted absentee this year -- also setting a statewide record, according to Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Department of State's Division of Elections.

Many voters requested an absentee ballot when faced with an unusually long ballot sporting 11 constitutional amendment questions. Sweat said it was the longest ballot he could remember in 28 years as supervisor.

Sweat is retiring from office. Mike Bennett, a Republican from Bradenton, was elected Nov. 6 as the new elections chief.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.com.

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