Mail-in ballot requests reach record highs

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Michael Brown of Holmes Beach poses Sept. 23 in a T-shirt supporting the reelection of Commissioner Pat Morton, next to a campaign sign for the commissioner, who has served the city 18 years. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
Signs promoting Holmes Beach Commissioner Kim Rash and newcomer Jayne Christenson in the Nov. 3 election are posted Sept. 23 on a lawn in Holmes Beach.
A sign supporting former Holmes Beach Commissioner Rick Hurst is posted Sept. 23 in the 6600 block of Gulf Drive. Hurst was a city commissioner 2017-19 but lost his bid for reelection in 2019.

More Anna Maria Island voters are preparing to vote from the comfort of home in the upcoming election than ever before.

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office communications director Karen Jones wrote in a Sept. 23 email to The Islander that 2,101 mail-in ballots were requested. There are 3,098 registered voters on the island.

President Donald Trump has frequently attacked the legitimacy of mail-in voting, at times asking voters not to vote by mail.

However, Trump’s warnings may have produced the Streisand effect — named for Barbra Streisand, the celebrity who tried to hide photos of her home and thus drew more attention to the residence.

In 2019, 572 island residents voted by mail out of 4,500 registered voters.

The 2016 general election, the most recent presidential election, is more comparable to 2020, with 1,602 out of 4,806 registered voters on the island voting by mail.

This year, mail-in ballots were requested by 444 Anna Maria voters, 340 Bradenton Beach voters and 1,317 Holmes Beach voters.

Anna Maria had 295 more requested mail-in ballots this year than in 2019, and 74 more than 2016.

Voters from Bradenton Beach requested 261 mail-in ballots in 2016 and there was no municipal election in 2019.

Holmes Beach voters requested 423 mail-in ballots last year and 971 for the 2016 election.

People interested in voting by mail must submit requests by 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, to the SOE, Suite 108, 600 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton.

Instructions for completing the mail-in ballot are included with the form.

Ballots must be received by the SOE by 7 p.m. Nov. 3 to be counted in the election. Also, mail-in ballots can be dropped in a lockbox at the SOE or delivered during office hours.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 5.