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Good Question: What happens to mail-in ballots without proper postage?

Brennan Somers
Updated: October 13, 2020 05:15 AM
Created: October 13, 2020 04:46 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Three weeks to go until Election Day, and we have a good question about ballots.

A viewer asked News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: “Today, 10/07/20, I brought my mail-in voting ballot to the post office...instead of just dropping it off I decided to check the postage...I owed $0.15 additional postage....what would have happened if I had not checked the postage and just put in their mailbox?”

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That’s a very good question, considering how many more people are mailing in ballots this year. We reached out to the US Postal Service for guidance. 

A spokesperson told News10NBC:

“Each state Board of Elections determines whether to provide voters with a pre-paid return envelope for mail-in ballots or request that voters apply their own appropriate postage. Where voters are required to apply postage, the Postal Service requires election officials to inform voters of the amount of postage required since ballot mail is variable in content and weight (which can impact postage).”           

The Monroe County Board of Elections website also has a bullet point addressing this under "How to return my absentee ballot”

The notice states: “Using proper postage (minimum of 55 cents), mail ballot to the Board of Elections, 39 W. Main St., Rochester, NY 14614”

So what happens if a ballot still gets through but is unpaid or comes up short?

The USPS spokesperson also addressed that by saying, "If a return ballot is nevertheless entered into the mailstream with insufficient or unpaid postage, it is the Postal Service’s policy not to delay the delivery of completed mail-in ballots. We are proactively working with state and local election officials on mailing requirements, including postage payment. In cases where a ballot enters the mailstream without the proper amount of postage, the Postal Service will deliver the ballot and thereafter attempt to collect postage from the appropriate (state or local) Board of Elections."

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If you have a question you'd like answered, email GoodQuestion@whec.com.


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