To quote the great American orator Yogi Berra, it’s like déjà vu all over again. Just about this time almost every year in recent memory, electionlineWeekly writes a story about cuts proposed by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the possible impacts those cuts could have on the administration of elections. This year is no different after late last week USPS announced it will eliminate Saturday delivery except for packages. And elections officials aren’t thrilled, but they aren’t exactly surprised either. “I sit on the Mailers Technical Advisory Board (MTAC) to USPS so this has been discussed for quite some time now—it seemed to be more a question of “when”, not so much of “if,” said Tammy Patrick federal compliance officer, Maricopa County, Ariz. Elections. “The August timeline is preferable to waiting until 2014.” While only Oregon and Washington offer exclusive vote-by-mail system, about 20 percent of all voters in the United States cast their ballot through some form of vote-by-mail. This figure has more than tripled since 1980. This is especially true in Western states like Arizona, California, Colorado and Montana where local elections officials are working with legislatures and state election officials to make voting by mail as easy as possible.
The plan, which takes effect the week of August 5, is expected to save the USPS $2 billion per year once it is fully implemented.
Although disappointed, most elections officials see this as a necessary adjustment in order to keep the cash-strapped agency afloat.
“As a vote-by-mail state, we are disappointed that the Postmaster General has announced plans to halt Saturday home mail service,” said new Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “But we are making plans to deal with this, and will work to ensure that our voters are not disenfranchised.”
In a statement, Wyman said that the state would work to expand the drop-box system, which is becoming increasingly popular and would embark on a voter education campaign to remind their voters to put those ballots in the mail by Friday.
“The elimination hits at a lousy time for us. Saturday delivery will stop on Aug. 3, just three days before our primary,” said new Washington State Elections Director Lori Augino. “That said, it’s not a major issue for us. We will encourage voters to mail their ballot the Friday before every election to ensure an on-time postmark.”
In Oregon, the first state to go all vote-by-mail in the country, Secretary of State Kate Brown is concerned about the impacts the changes will have on voters and elections officials.
“Although USPS never discussed this with us, or gave us any advance notice that they would implement this, we were not surprised. This has been talked about for years. It was and remains a short-sighted idea,” Brown said.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.