Postal Service official advises Kansans voting by mail to cast ballots as early as possible

As voting by mail skyrockets amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service recently warned that some Kansas voters’ mail-in ballots may not be counted in the November general election because of postal delivery times and state mail-in voting deadlines. 

Kansas was one of 46 states notified by the Postal Service and one of 40 states in which it raised serious concerns, according to an article by the Washington Post. 

“In particular, we wanted to note that, under our reading of Kansas’ election law, certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards,” Thomas Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of USPS, wrote to Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab. “This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them,” Marshall said. 

The warnings from the Postal Service to the states were obtained by the Washington Post through an Open Records request. 

Marshall explained that voters must use First-Class Mail to mail their ballots and ballot requests while state or local election officials may use either First-Class Mail or Marketing Mail to mail blank ballots to voters. Most domestic First-Class Mail is delivered 2-5 days after it is received by the Postal Service, and most domestic Marketing Mail is delivered 3-10 days, he said. 

In Kansas, a voter can request a mail-in ballot up to 7 days before Election Day. This could be a problem, the Postal Service says. “If a voter submits a request at or near the deadline, and the ballot is transmitted to the voter by mail, there is a significant risk that the voter will not have sufficient time to complete and mail the completed ballot back to election officials in time for it to arrive by the state’s postmarking deadline. Also, given the delivery standards for First-Class Mail there is a risk that completed ballots postmarked on Election Day itself will not be delivered in time to meet the state’s receipt deadline.” 

In Kansas, mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Tue. Nov. 3, and received by election officials by Fri. Nov. 6.  

Marshall recommends Kansas voters take several steps to ensure their mail-in ballots are counted. Those include:  

— Voters should submit their ballot request at least 15 days before Election Day. Kansans can currently request mail-in ballots now.

— Election officials should use the faster First-Class Mail to transmit blank ballots to voters.  

— Voters should mail their ballots to election officials at least one week before the state’s due date, which means voters should mail their ballot no later than Fri. Oct. 30.  

If the recent August primaries are an indication, Kansans will easily break mail-in voting records for the general election. During the Aug. 4 Republican and Democratic primaries in the state, more than 315,000 advanced ballots were mailed to voters, which is a five-fold increase from the 2016 presidential election year, and more than 260,000 ballots were returned to election officials, which is a six-fold increase from 2016.   

Recently, President Donald Trump has alleged mail-in voting invites fraud, but he has been refuted by officials from both sides of the aisle. Aggressive cost-cutting by USPS under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has also led to concerns about timely mail delivery with many congressional officials calling for an investigation.

In a recent interview with KWCH, Kansas Secretary of State Schwab said mail-in voting is safe and secure. Schwab also advised mailing ballots as early as possible or returning it in person to the local election office. 

The deadline to register to vote for the general election is Oct. 13. Advance voting in person and by mail starts Oct. 14. To apply for a mail-in ballot go here or here 

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