Was Your Hays County Ballot-by-Mail Returned to You? Here’s What’s Happening and How to complete your Vote
Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – The Hays County Elections Office has been advised that some completed and mailed ballots-by-mail have been returned to voters due to what is believed to be a processing issue at post offices in some areas of the County. The office has received approximately 100 calls or visits from voters who have had their ballots returned to them by mistake.
On the back of the yellow envelope that contains the completed ballot-by-mail is a white label that contains the voter’s name, address and a bar code used to verify the ballot. In some instances, post office equipment appears to be reading the address on the white label on the back of the envelope instead of the Elections Office address printed on the front of the envelope.
“Any voter-by-mail who has not yet returned their ballot to the Elections Office or who receives one returned by the post office is asked to cross out the address only on that white label (name and bar code should remain visible) so that mail equipment can see only the address on the front of the envelope,” Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan said. “Post offices are looking into the issue, and in the meantime, now that we know of this problem, our staff is crossing out the address proactively on that label before mailing a ballot package to voters. Some post offices are also gathering and sending ballots directly to us when they see this happening.” Cowan noted that she has also filed a complaint with USPS headquarters and is working with them as they investigate the problem.
Cowan noted that as of October 19 the Elections Office has mailed out 4,571 ballots-by-mail and received 1,863 completed ones. “I’m told this problem is appearing in other areas of the state, and rather randomly, so it is hard to figure out a reason,” she said. “Not all return ballots are sent back from any particular post office that we know of. This is the same envelope and label required by state law that we’ve used for years.” She also pointed out that since the envelope is canceled on the back of the envelope, the postage stamp that the voter originally placed on the envelope can be reused when mailed again.
Applications for ballots-by-mail must arrive in the Elections Office by October 28 and completed ballots must arrive at the Elections Office by November 8. For more information about voting and ballot-by-mail requirements, visit http://www.co.hays.tx.us/elections.aspx.