Absentee ballots returned to Smith County voters after mail mix-up at post office

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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Early voting started Tuesday across Texas leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3. Absentee ballots allow voters who can’t get to a polling location to cast their choices. However, they have been giving many East Texans problems recently.

One East Texas mailed theirs on February 3 but received it back in her mailbox on February 5.

“We’ve heard from several people that the post office has returned their ballot back to them,” said Karen Nelson, Smith County Elections Administrator. “I reached out to the acting postmaster three different times and they’ve told us that the ballots are being put into the counting machine or the sorting machine in upside down.”

Grant’s ballot was returned twice by the postal service and her neighbors also came back.

“People won’t be able to get their ballots out and votes won’t be counted,” said Grant’s neighbor.

Their biggest concern is that every citizen gets the opportunity to cast their ballot.

“What about other people that cannot get out and walk, to go and vote themselves or stand in line to vote, what about military people who have absentee ballots that will be mailed in and they’re going to get theirs back after the election is over,” said Nelson.

Nelson says they have been working with the local postmaster to make sure the ballots end up where they are headed. She says they have assured her that post office employees underwent extra training on how the envelopes need to be fed into the machine to make sure they are read correctly.

Along with training in the post office, Nelson says they made some changes in the elections office as well.

“We decide to change our processing label here at the office, so we’re marking out through the barcode that we use to track when they come back in and we’re also moving the label to a different location on the back to see if that will alleviate it,” said Nelson.

She says it seems to be working because calls about returned ballots have stopped.

While there is still a concern, absentee voters can drop their envelop off at the elections office if possible, or mark through the below barcode before mailing off their ballot.

She says voters can even call up to the elections office and ask for the green carrier-envelope below.

They want to make sure every East Texan vote counts.

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