More confusion over absentee ballot postage

UPDATE 10/26/16:

One week after 9 On Your Side’s first report on absentee ballot confusion, our newsroom continues to receive emails from voters who say their ballot does not tell them how many stamps are required. At the same time, one county apparently has a typo in their instruction sheet, adding to the confusion. (Read below for details)

At Cincinnati’s Oakley Post Office branch,Evelyn Francis proudly showed us her ballot, with two stamps in the corner, even though there was no notice explaining how many first class stamps it required.

“Just to be safe,” she said.

Smart move. For the third year in a row, Ohio absentee voters are not sure how many stamps to place on the oversized absentee ballot.

It just says “Affix First Class Postage,” which Tammy Wirkamp said is not very helpful. “It’s very confusing,” she said.

And in a year when there is so much concern about possible election fraud and missed votes, inconsistencies over postage is dumb.  Really, really dumb.

Why is it So Confusing?

So 9 On Your Side checked  with the Hamilton County Board of Elections, and learned a surprising fact: the outside envelope does not say how many stamps you need because it varies from county to county, and even from own to town within a single county.

However, on the instruction sheet accompanying your ballot, it should say whether your ballot requires one stamp or extra postage. 

Your ballot will require either one stamp or two stamps in Hamilton County, depending on how many pages your local ballot is. If you have a lot of local elections and school issues, your ballot will be heavy and will require two 47 cent stamps.

So read the instructions carefully. In fact, if your ballot requires extra postage, the instruction sheet will be blue in Hamilton County.

Typo Leads to More Questions

Clermont County tells us all its ballots use just one stamp. However, 9 On Your Side viewers report a typo in the instructions, where you are told to use a 47 cent stamp in one area, but to use a 49 cent stamp in another part of the instruction sheet.  Despite the typo, you need just one stamp.

If you are still a little bit confused, your best bet is to not mail your ballot in a blue postal box, but rather to go inside your local postal branch and hand it to the clerk for weighing.

That way they can tell you the exact postage, which is something smart voters are doing.

Otherwise, do as Evelyn Francis did: place two stamps on your ballot: it’s just another 47 cents for peace of mind that your vote counted.    

What Postal Service Says

We also contacted the US Postal Service, which says just like last year it has instructed mail clerks to send all ballots to the local Board of Elections, even those with just one stamp when they should have two. 

It’s a great idea in theory, except that voters in Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus area) are reporting ballots “returned to sender” for insufficient postage, after that Columbus area county apparently gave the wrong instructions.

Is there an easy solution?  Read the instructions accompanying your absentee ballot.  The instructions with Hamilton County Ohio ballots are correct when it comes to needed postage.

If you live in an outlying county and are still confused, go for more postage rather than less, so that that your vote counts, and you don’t waste your money.

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