County clerk: USPS card offers ’good guidelines’

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
This card was sent to postal customers in all 50 states.

Recently there was likely a post card in your mailbox — emblazoned with the words “If you plan to vote by mail, plan ahead,” and the United States Postal Service logo.

That post card, according to Mark Inglett, strategic communications officer for the USPS, was sent to residential customers in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“The intention of the mailer was to send a single set of recommendations that provided general guidance allowing voters who choose mail-in voting to do so successfully, regardless of where they live and where they vote,” Inglett said.

The back of the card contained a checklist — encouraging those interested in voting by mail to start the process early, request a mail ballot at least 15 days before election day, add postage to return envelops and mail the ballot at least seven days prior to Election Day.

“It all looked like good advice to me. Those are not our specific deadlines, but it is good guidelines,” said Rick Piepho, Harvey County clerk.

In Kansas, the voter registration deadline for the upcoming election is Oct. 13, while the deadline to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 27. County election offices will begin mailing ballots to registered voters who request them on Oct. 14.

Harvey County will receive two vote drop boxes from the state of Kansas in October, one of those will be placed at the courthouse, 800 N. Main, and the other at Newton Fire Station No. 3, 2500 S. Kansas. Mail ballots can be returned to those boxes.

Kansas voters can check their status, if a mail ballot has been requested, and when it will be mailed online at “Voter View,” https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/voterview/

Piepho said his office is sending out vote by mail information and a registration reminder this week, and expects mail ballots to hit record numbers. As of Friday, there were more than 5,500 requests for advance by mail ballots — in the August primary the clerk’s office fielded 5,553 requests.

“It is going to be a busy election. We are doing everything we can as normal as possible. We have put in personal protection. Vote by mail is probably the easiest if they have [COVID-19] concerns,” Peipho said.

In Kansas, a mail ballot must be post marked by 7 p.m. on Election Day, and received in the clerk’s office no later than three days after the election in order to be counted.

“When you get it in the mail, you should probably vote it and return it as soon as possible,” Piepho said. “ … We got late ballots back in the primary, that were not counted. They were not late because of the post office, they were late because they were postmarked late.”

Despite the expected increased volume, Inglett is not concerned about the possibility of the post office getting overwhelmed and ballot delivery being slow.

“The Postal Service is ready to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives,” Inglett said. “... To put it in context, the Postal Service delivers 433 million pieces of mail a day. Even if all Americans were to vote by mail this year, 330 million ballots over the course of the election would be only three-quarters of what the Postal Service delivers in one single day. The Postal Service has more than enough capacity, including collection boxes and processing equipment, to handle all election mail this year, which is predicted to amount to less than 2% of total mail volume from mid-September to Election Day.”