With all the back and forth about the postage for Pierce County absentee ballots this year, I thought I should touch base with the U.S. Postal Service.
To recap, it will cost an estimated 61 cents to mail your absentee ballot this year because it includes two ballot cards. Twice in the recent past the county auditor’s office has paid postage for absentee ballots. But this year – citing a tight budget – it’s not.
Tacoma City Councilwoman Julie Anderson, trying to unseat County Auditor Jan Shabro, claims Shabro should have paid the postage and hasn’t done enough to inform the public about the higher postage. In response, Shabro last week confirmed a long-standing county policy to pay to mail ballots with insufficient postage. The county hasn’t advertised the policy for budget reasons: every ballot that doesn’t have enough postage is a ballot the auditor’s office has to pay for.
Last week we got a call from reader Scott Clement of Gig Harbor, who said his ballot was returned by the postal service after his fiancée used a single first-class stamp to try to mail it.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” Ernie Swanson, spokesman for U.S. Postal Service regional operations in Seattle, told me this morning. “I don’t know where the problem was.”
Swanson said the postal service is in “full understanding and cooperation” with Pierce County’s policy of paying for postage if voters don’t include enough stamps on their ballot.
He said he had not heard about any incidents in which ballots with insufficient postage were not delivered.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” Swanson said. “I certainly can’t guarantee that it didn’t.
“We have communicated with carriers and all personnel throughout the county that that’s not the way it’s done,” he said.