Changes at the U.S. Postal Service may be a key reason hundreds of absentee ballots submitted across Virginia will not count — including 55 ballots in tight races in Stafford County. Former Virginia Board of Elections Secretary Don Palmer, now a fellow with the Bipartisan Policy Center focused on election improvements, said changes that added two days to standard processing times for First Class mail, among other things, have made it less likely that even ballots mailed the Friday before an election arrive in time to be counted. In Virginia, only ballots received before polls close can be counted under current law; the postmark does not matter.
“There’s less [service] over the weekend for postal processing, and so the voter needs to be aware that it’s going to take longer for their absentee ballot … to get to an election office,” Palmer said in an interview.
“This was all sort of due to cost savings, and so it’s been going on for a number of election cycles, but, for example, the [reductions in] processing over the weekend is something that’s fairly new, and it added another wrinkle,” he said.