Missouri voters urged to mail ballots early

Staff Writer
The Examiner

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A U.S. Postal Service official is warning Missourians who are using mail-in voting this year to return their ballots at least a week before the Nov. 3 general election to ensure their votes will be counted.

Thomas Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of the Postal Service, told Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft in a letter July 31 that the service might not be able to get all ballots to election officials by Nov. 3 if they are mailed too close to Election Day, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Missouri law requires all mail-in ballots to arrive by 7 p.m. on Election Day for them to be counted. Election officials are expecting a sharp increase in mail-in ballots for the general election because of coronavirus concerns and the Legislature's decision to expand mail-in voting options this year.

”We recommend that voters who choose to mail their ballots do so no later than Tuesday, October 27,” Marshall said in the letter.

Marshall said the Postal Service is not recommending the state election laws be changed to accommodate its service.

“By the same token, however, the Postal Service cannot adjust its delivery standards to accommodate the requirements of state election law,” Marshall wrote.

Marshall recommended that states should have deadlines for requesting a mail ballot at least 15 days before the election. Missouri’s deadline to request an absentee or mail-in ballot is October 21, which is 13 days before the election.

Marshall sent a similar letter to the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office on July 29, and that state is now asking for a court order to ensure ballots postmarked by Election Day are counted if they are received by the Friday after the election.

Ashcroft has not responded to the U.S. Postal Service’s letter, Browning said.