Oregon Secretary of State Apparently Demands that Postal Service Stop Delivering Ballots with Insufficient Postage
The Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) was very surprised to receive a
copy of a letter, on United States Postal Service (USPS) letterhead and
apparently written by the Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, refusing
the demand of Secretary of State Kate Brown's Director of Elections that
the USPS stop
delivering Oregon ballots that have insufficient postage.
According to the letter, the Oregon Secretary of State's Director of
Elections told the Postmaster General that delivering these ballots to
the county clerks is unconstitutional.
"Halting the delivery of these ballots would hurt Oregon's rural voters
the most," said IPO co-chair Dan Meek, "because ballot drop-off boxes
there are few and far between." For example, Curry
County is almost 2,000 square miles and has only 2 drop-off points
that are not within Gold Beach. Other Oregon counties
are similar. Rural voters depend on using the mail to vote.
No information is available on how Oregon ballots suffer from
insufficient postage. This recent article in the Helena Independent Record
indicates that insufficient postage in Missoula County, Montana,
this election has affected 300 out of 40,000 returned ballots, which
is a rate of 0.75%. http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/insufficient-postage-an-issue-with-many-montana-ballots-missoula-will/article_f59347b6-1f93-11e2-8d8a-001a4bcf887a.html
The Postmaster General's letter, dated October 31, rejected the Secretary of State's demand, stating:
"The Postal Service has received your communications
regarding the Postal Service's policy to deliver election ballots
even if they lack sufficient postage. You request that the Postal
Service cease this practice, claiming that its continuance
conflicts with Oregon law, as well as unspecified provisions of
the United States Constitution. We disagree with those assertions.
We believe that our current policy, by ensuring the timely
delivery of ballots sent through the mail, properly reflects the
appropriate role of the Postal Service in the functioning of the
The full letter from the Postmaster is here: http://indparty.com/postmaster.pdf.
IPO does not have a copy of Secretary's demand that the USPS stop
delivering these ballots to the county clerks.
"This is very troubling," said IPO Co-Chair Dan Meek. "With postage
rates increasing just about every year, it is understandable that
some voters would stamp their ballots with one cent or two cents too
little postage. And sometimes stamps just fall off, particularly in
Oregon's damp weather. And sometimes ballots and their envelopes weigh more than one
ounce, which requires more postage than usual. These voters should not have their votes
discarded. The Postal Service should be commended for delivering
these ballots, not attacked."