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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Elections and the Postal Service

Back in December, The New York Times reported:
The post office had bad news on Monday for all those who like to pop a check into the mail to pay a bill due the next day: don’t count on it.

The United States Postal Service said it planned to largely eliminate next-day delivery for first-class mail as part of its push to cut costs and reduce its budget deficit. Currently, more than 40 percent of first-class mail is delivered in one day.
The agency said the slower delivery would result from its decision to shut about half of its 487 mail processing centers nationwide. The move is expected to eliminate about 28,000 jobs and increase the distance that mail must travel between post offices and processing centers. It would be the first reduction in delivery standards for first-class mail in 40 years.
The change will have a significant impact on elections.  In 2010, 18.2 percent of votes came in by mail.  And many voters popped the ballot into the mailbox the day before the election, expecting it to arrive in time.

Timm Herdt writes in The Ventura County Star:

In the last statewide primary election two years ago, more than 12,500 mail-in ballots in Riverside County were nearly invalidated because of what postal officials described as "a change in process" that caused them to be delivered after Election Day.
They were ultimately counted, but only after a judge ordered it.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen now worries that an election nightmare on a much larger scale could be repeated this year unless the Postal Service delays its planned closure of 18 mail processing centers in California until after November's presidential election.
Bowen is appealing to postal officials and members of Congress to extend for six months a moratorium on the closures that is scheduled to expire May 15.
"This has the potential to leaves thousands and thousands of ballots uncounted," Bowen said Wednesday. "We need the post office not to do it. It would be a profound disservice to democracy."

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