UPDATED: New Voters, More Postage | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

UPDATED: New Voters, More Postage

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Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann wants to designate the Rankin-Hinds River Flood and Drainage Control District as a state agency.

The stamp box on your absentee ballot envelope isn't big enough, says Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn. The size of the envelope and the ballot inside raises the postage to 83 cents, she said, despite the postage box on the exterior of the envelope reading: "Place stamp (singular) here."

"We need the general public to know that it takes two stamps to make sure their absentee ballot reaches the circuit clerk's office without complication," Dunn said.

Circuit clerk employees say many ballots bearing only one stamp arrived at the clerk's office with additional postage demands from the U.S. Post Office. Dunn said her employees will not reject the ballots, but she wonders who is ultimately going to have to pay the additional postage.

"I don't know if the U.S. Post Office will eat the loss or are they expecting us to pay for it," Dunn said. "It doesn't matter as far as the envelopes go. The ones that are here are here now, and we'll count them, but I still would like to know."

Dunn could not say if postal distribution networks in other counties would mail under-financed ballots.

"They ought to mail them anyway, if they recognize what they are," she said.

Doug Kyle, communications manager for the U.S. Post Office's Mississippi district, said postal employees have been told to send absentee ballot envelopes to their destination, regardless of funding.

"We encourage voters to put the correct postage on it, but we've told our people not to delay or return any short-paid or unpaid absentee ballots. We want to make sure they get to where they need to go," Kyle said. "We will be contacting the various agencies that are getting those back as to resolving the issue of any unpaid postage."

Kyle said it was up to the recipients of the ballots to work with the U.S. Post Office on paying the difference.

Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, could not confirm that the ballots suffered postage issues Tuesday morning, but added that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann would issue a press release on the matter once the problem was confirmed.

The ballot issue follows on the heels of an announcement by Hosemann that the numbers on registered state voters have increased to almost 2 million.

Hosemann grossly underestimated voter turnout for the 2008 presidential primaries, anticipating between 125,000 and 150,000 votes from both parties. The actual number was almost 600,000, with Dems casting 434,000 votes and Republicans issuing 143,000.

Hosemann acknowledged that the state now has 1,873,740 registered voters, with an increase of 172,787 registrations since Jan. 1.

Most of the new voters are likely under the age of 40, Mississippi Young Democrats President Parker Wiseman said.

"The majority of new registrations are young people who have never registered before," Wiseman said, adding that the oversized ballot envelopes and extra costs put absentee ballot voters at the mercy of county circuit clerks, who may treat the under-funded ballots based on partisan behavior.

"Hinds County might be OK, but there are some circuit clerks in college towns who try to discourage students from voting, and students and young people are most affected by absentee-ballot issues," Wiseman said. "Some clerks need few reasons to throw out a ballot.

Previous Comments

ID
139043
Comment

Goodness, how heavy can those ballots be?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-10-14T10:34:49-06:00
ID
139045
Comment

More importantly, who designed it to require two stamps, but to have only one stamp box? This stinks. It'll probably give Hosemann an excuse to throw out a ton of ballots.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-14T10:36:29-06:00
ID
139047
Comment

this is really messed up! They need to contact each and every person who received such a bogus ballot. It's not enough to put an announcement out and assume that takes care of it.

Author
Izzy
Date
2008-10-14T11:05:05-06:00
ID
139069
Comment

I think the post offices in Hinds County should bend the rules this time and still take the ballots with one stamp on them. That would be the fair thing to do.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-10-14T13:10:52-06:00
ID
139071
Comment

I reasonably believe that up until now,going back 30 years,the absentee ballot mailed back to the clerk was letter size and thus only required one regular postage stamp. as i understand it the new ballot envelope devised by the Secretary of state exceeds the letter size limitation of USPS and thus two stamps are required..What could the articulable reason be for this change? By the way the only 3 categories of voters allowed to vote absentee by mail are persons age 65 or older, persons with disabilities,or persons temporarily residing outside of the county.In my opinion this matter needs to be cured immediately.step up Delbert and admit you screwed up,again.

Author
chimneyville
Date
2008-10-14T13:30:45-06:00
ID
139073
Comment

Adam,you may want to modify the headline. it aint that the ballot is too heavy its that the envelope is too large.the solution in my opinion is fro delbert to instruct the circuit clerks to print new absentee ballot envelopes on letter size format.

Author
chimneyville
Date
2008-10-14T13:36:04-06:00
ID
139083
Comment

Thanks, Chimney. I'll fix the headline. Obviously, Hosemann needs to go to great lengths to fix this problem and to notify anyone and everyone who may have sent it in already. Any way to have the post office hold them rather then return them?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-14T15:06:39-06:00
ID
139084
Comment

Never mind. Someone got to it first. They don't need me here anymore.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-14T15:07:21-06:00
ID
139085
Comment

How in hell could this happen, by the way?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-14T15:13:40-06:00
ID
139086
Comment

Hosemann could probably direct the post office to accept the ballots and charge his office for the difference. "Persons temporarily residing outside of the county" is a pretty large number, by the way, when you consider people in the military, volunteering and working all over the world. Oh, and absentee ballots need to be notarized unless you're disabled... Check the League of Women Voters Web site for more info.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2008-10-14T15:18:09-06:00
ID
139087
Comment

BTW, if you want to help with voter protection this year—I have a feeling it's going to take us all with all the tricks (or incompetence, take your pick) going on, you can sign up here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-14T15:18:17-06:00
ID
139088
Comment

I see why the little lady on the commercial couldn't ever get his name right. He's a screw-up despite his education.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-14T15:35:33-06:00
ID
139121
Comment

Hosemann finally responding; blaming "some" circuit clerks and putting burden on voters to make sure no problem happens: Jackson, MS—It has come to the attention of the Secretary of State’s office that some absentee ballots mailed by Circuit Clerks may require extra postage when they are voted and returned to the Circuit Clerk’s office.  This is due to some Circuit Clerks using larger envelopes for their absentee ballots.    “We want to encourage everyone to check the weight of their absentee ballot before sending it in to their local Circuit Clerk.  If there is any question that your absentee ballot might require an extra stamp, either go to your local post office and have them weigh the ballot, or go ahead andprovide the extra postage,” says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.  “We want to make every effort to ensure your vote counts.  Make sure your ballot is received in your local Circuit Clerk’s office by the deadline by placing the appropriate postage for delivery.”   Mail-in absentee ballots for the 2008 General Election must be received by the Circuit Clerk’s office by 5:00 pm on Monday, November 3, 2008.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-15T12:20:46-06:00
ID
139122
Comment

What about telling people how to make sure their ballot got there if they already sent it? I'd guess that if you re-sent it just in case that Hosemann would start squealing about "fraud." Just a hunch.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-15T12:21:41-06:00

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