Oregon Secretary of State Apparently Demands that Postal Service Stop Delivering Ballots with Insufficient Postage

November 3, 2012  – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Dan Meek        dan@indparty.com         503-293-9021
Sal Peralta     sal@indparty.com         503-437-2833
Linda Williams  linda@lindawilliams.net  503-293-0399

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 electoral process."
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."


Independent Party of Oregon | 9220 SW Barbur Blvd | Suite 119-254 | info@indparty.com | Portland, Oregon 97219 | Oregon | USA | fax 866-795-9415

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