One of the many potential problems facing the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to process election ballots on time are state deadlines that limit the amount of time voters have to request, receive, fill out and return their ballots.
In a letter to states last month, Postal Service officials warned about tight state deadlines that could result in ballots not being delivered on time enough to count.
Citing the standard delivery times for First Class mail and domestic Marketing ,ail, weather-related delays and other unforeseen issues, the Postal Service recommended in its letter that voters request absentee ballots early enough so the Board of
Elections receives the ballot at least 15 days before the election, and “preferably long before that time.”
The letter also called on boards to use the faster First-Class Mail when mailing out ballots and to allow a week for the ballot to get to the voter.
Given the potential for post offices to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of ballots mailed in at the last minute due to people fearing voting in person, states should heed this warning.
It has nothing to do with fraud or incompetence. It’s a matter of logistics.
New York is one of the states that sets a very limited time frame for when residents can request ballots – no sooner than 30 days before an election.
If voters are supposed to get their ballots to the Board of Elections 15 days before the vote, and it takes a few days each way for them to receive and return a ballot (not counting people taking a day or two to actually fill out the ballot), it’s possible that many ballots might not arrive to the Board of Elections in time to be counted.
New York can mitigate this problem by eliminating the 30-day window for requesting a ballot. The state Legislature anticipated the issue and last month passed a bill (
) that would remove the 30-day limit for this election only and allow voters to request ballots now instead of waiting.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had yet to sign the bill, as well as to take other steps to ensure that valid ballots are counted.
With just 76 days until the election, the governor needs to treat these balloting issues with greater urgency.
He could start by letting voters start requesting ballots sooner than later.