Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017
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Politics

Latta: Postal service vows faster delivery

Congressman probed ballots that took weeks to arrive in ’16

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) said he has sent letters to northwest Ohio boards of elections updating them on his investigation into the U.S. Postal Service’s slow or failed delivery of absentee-voter ballots during the 2016 election.

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Latta

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Mr. Latta said he’s been in “continual communication” with the postal service over its handling of the mail through the Michigan Metroplex Processing Center in Pontiac, Mich., but said much of that communication has been “unsatisfactory.”

LaVera Scott and Terry Burton, directors respectively of the Lucas and Wood county elections boards, both said they had not received letters from Mr. Latta about postal handling of absentee ballots. Mr. Latta’s spokesman, Drew Griffin, said the letters were mailed Monday in Bowling Green.

Mr. Latta said he toured the processing center the evening of April 17 to observe mail sorting.

He concluded that staff there are “taking steps to the address the facility’s overall mail processing standards by bringing in additional management from other processing plants around the country, implementing continuous audits, as well as making other operational improvements.

“Additionally, I was assured new absentee ballot handling procedures will be in place by next election to prevent lost ballots,” the congressman said.

Aside from the ballot issue, Mr. Latta added his office has heard frequent complaints from constituents over mail delays. The postal service closed its Toledo processing center in 2013 and now routes Toledo-area mail through Pontiac.

At least 1,050 ballots sent to local voters away from home during the 2016 presidential election were lost in the mail or took weeks to arrive. The ballots were sent by northwest Ohio county elections boards to college students and other people away from their residences.

While some voters obtained replacement ballots, others did not vote.

Mr. Latta said the Metroplex center appeared to be the ballot problem’s source.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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