9:07am

Tue November 1, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Cost of Mail-In Ballots Troubles Georgetown Voter

Larger envelopes for absentee ballots mean it costs more to mail in the ballots - a situation that has a Georgetown man asking questions. "It says on the outer envelope 'Place stamp here,' but it costs $1.08 to mail an absentee ballot," said Jerry Richardson.

The notation on the envelope could lead voters to think a 44-cent first-class stamp will get it to the county clerk's elections office, Richardson said.

"But I can easily see how people's ballots wouldn't be counted" because the Post Office may not deliver an envelope without sufficient postage, he said.

Georgetown Postmaster Joey Groves said mail sorters would handle it one of two ways.

"It'll either come to the recipient postage due, or (be) returned to sender if they've got a return address on it," Groves said.

It's a problem that Amber Hoffman, election coordinator in the Scott County Clerk's Office, understands, but offers reassurance.

"We go ahead and pay" postage due, Hoffman said Monday.
The situation arose first in last year's elections, she said.

"The state increased the size of the ballot envelope" leading to the increased postage.

"They did that so there wouldn't be too many folds in the ballot," she said. "Before that, it cost 64 cents to mail an absentee ballot."

But while Scott County voters may not have absentee ballot-delivery issues, Richardson expressed concern about what happens in other counties.

"It's got me wondering how many absentee votes in other counties haven't been counted," he said.

Sarah Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Elections, said it might not be a problem at all.

"We got no calls from voters on it (last year)," she said.
The Board of Elections increased the absentee ballot's size in response to the Kentucky County Clerks Association, Johnson said. Folded ballots were subject to being misread by scanning equipment the clerks use to count absentee votes was the group's findings.

"We have instructed county clerks to include information in the absentee-ballot packets about the cost of postage being more than a first-class stamp," she said.

Scott County's Hoffman said she wished the state would make absentee ballot envelopes pre-paid, but Johnson said that's not something the Board of Elections can afford.

"The state Board of Elections has no budget for any postage," she said. "That's something the legislature would have to enact -- and, of course, fund," Johnson said.