USPS: some Missouri ballots may not arrive in time to be counted
JEFFERSON CITY - Some ballots requested near the state's deadline may not be returned by mail in time to be counted, the United States Postal Service told the Missouri Secretary of State's Office in a letter dated July 31.
The letter comes amid discussions and concerns at the national level over funding for and preparedness by the USPS.
In the letter, sent from USPS General Counsel and Executive Vice President Thomas J. Marshall, the Postal Service said "under our reading of Missouri's election laws, certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots may be incongruous with the Postal Service's delivery standards.
Marshall said voters must use first-class mail (or another expedited level) to mail ballots and ballot requests. State and local election officials can either use first-class or marketing mail to send blank ballots to voters. In the letter, Marshall said first-class mail typically arrives 2-5 days after the Postal Service gets it, while marketing mail (domestic) is usually delivered 3-10 days after receipt.
The letter recommends the following:
- Voters request ballots at least 15 days before Election Day, or October 19
- Election officials should use first-class mail, not marketing mail, to send blank ballots and allow one week for delivery to voters
- Voters should mail in their ballots no later than October 27
The letter cites a reading of state law that would allow people to request a ballot as late as October 21. But, it goes on, if a voter sends a request at or near that deadline, "there is a significant risk that the voter will not have sufficient time to complete and mail the completed ballot...in time for it to arrive by the state's return deadline."
Marshall added "it is particularly important that voters be made aware of the transit times for the mail (including mail-in ballots) so that they can make informed decisions about whether and when to (1) request a mail-in ballot, and (2) mail a completed ballot back to election officials."