Jeramey Jannene

City Calls for USPS Investigation Into Missing Ballots

Tubs of ballots are showing up across Wisconsin that didn't get mailed to voters.

By - Apr 8th, 2020 04:35 pm
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An absentee ballot. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An absentee ballot. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Some of the potentially thousands of missing absentee ballots across Wisconsin have begun to appear. But answers have not.

The Village of Fox Point in Milwaukee County received 175 ballots back from the United States Postal Service without explanation on Election Day, too late for voters to do anything but vote in person. Three more crates were found Wednesday by a postal worker, filled with ballots for Appleton and Oshkosh voters, according to State Senator Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac).

But the City of Milwaukee still doesn’t know what happened to many of the ballots that its voters report never arrived. “We are going to formally request an investigation by the post office today as regards to what might have happened to those ballots,” said Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht during a media briefing Wednesday. The city believes the issue primarily affects ballots mailed on March 22nd and 23rd. “A majority of ballots issued over the March 22nd and March 23rd dates were actually received by voters.” He said he was following the issue in other municipalities as well.

Albrecht said he doesn’t know how many Milwaukee voters were affected, but the city still has approximately 40,000 outstanding absentee ballots. “We would normally see anything from an 85 to a 95 percent return rate,” said Albrecht. But he said the current rate is closer to 60 percent. The city issued just under 97,000 absentee ballots, and has records of mailing all the ballots.

One of those impacted by the missing ballot snafu was Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “If you requested a ballot and didn’t get one, you can vote. I know because that happened to me,” said Abele. He voted in person at South Division High School yesterday. In-person voting is now closed.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) also didn’t receive his requested ballot. “I did not receive my ballot and was unable to vote & abide by the public health order,” said Hintz via Twitter on Wednesday morning.

Ballots were required to be postmarked by April 7th and received by April 13th. For more on the problem, see our coverage from Monday: “Where Are the Missing Ballots?

Postmark Problem

The April 7th postmark requirement was explicitly added by the Supreme Court of the United States in a 5-4 ruling on Monday evening. It’s now created a new problem for election clerks.

“Not every ballot that has been returned to us has a postmark on it,” said Albrecht. He said differing systems used by election clerks when bulk mailing the ballots were causing the issue across the state. The ruling explicitly requires a postmark to ensure the ballot was mailed by election day, but Albrecht said ballots arriving Wednesday complied with the spirit of the rule even though they might lack the imprint. He said he is looking to the Wisconsin Elections Commission for guidance on how to count the ballots.

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Categories: Politics

4 thoughts on “City Calls for USPS Investigation Into Missing Ballots”

  1. Jeffjay60 says:

    I’d like to point out something here. I’m sure many people like myself ordered an absentee ballot to vote early and avoid crowds of people ina line on election day or even trying to just vote early in person. But there are many people that vote absentee that don’t have a choice. They are disabled or sufficiently handicapped that waiting in line is not an option. We must change the way we do this. Voting by mail is certainly a sensible approach even after we get past his pandemic.

  2. Gordon Skare says:

    Jeremy, if that is the mail piece that the city sent to you, how would a letter carrier know where you live in 53207?
    What is your street address, house no# or multi-family unit with apartment no#?
    A city ward no# is not used in the postal system, that’s only good for city government usage.
    If this is an example of how the ballots were mailed (addressed) know wonder they weren’t delivered!
    What beginner in the city election office thought this is a mailing address label usable for the post office?
    Now the question is returning these to the city to make them aware of this oversight. How long did that take?
    How long did these envelopes lay around the post office before they were returned to the city election office?
    In your case did the ballot sit in the Bay View P.O. or downtown in the mail processing facility on west St.Paul
    or both?
    Who’s the Milwaukee postmaster and what is the postal inspection service doing for a review of this situation.
    Who’s the station manager at the Bay View P.O. and/or the Mail Processing plant manager in the downtown location?
    Congress woman Moore should be placing influence on this, as they (P.O.) are a federal agency.
    Why did the post office serving Fox Point return the 175 ballots to that city? Was there no explanation for doing so?
    Everyone assumed the next person is doing their duty, but no one followed up to make sure it was getting it done.

  3. Alan Bartelme says:

    @Gordon – I’m only guessing, but Jeramey probably whited out his street address for the picture.

  4. Gordon Skare says:

    @Alan, thanks for pointing that out, never caught that. Just ranting that this is happening.
    Looking at the envelope again however, to throw something else out. The amount of postage paid for mailing this ballot out,
    a single piece of 1st class mail is .50 cents, it this case the amount was .38 & a fraction.
    The question comes, did the city use a company to process their mailing and if so, did that outside company play any part in the delaying of the mail?

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