As if to underscore the point, a letter concerning the slow or unreliable delivery of absentee voter ballots in 2016 took at least three days to travel from U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office in Bowling Green to the board of elections in the same city this week.
Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections, said the letter from Mr. Latta’s office arrived Friday. The letter was postmarked on Tuesday.
Mail in most northwest Ohio counties is taken to Pontiac, Mich., for processing, a system that has been in use since the U.S. Postal Service stopped using the Toledo processing center for that purpose in 2013.
The Pontiac Metroplex mail processing center has been blamed for a rash of lost absentee ballots from the November, 2016, presidential election.
Mr. Latta (R., Bowling Green) announced this week that he has been following up on the lost and late-arriving absentee ballots. He toured the Metroplex during the evening processing shift April 17, and then wrote a letter summarizing his findings so far to all the county boards of election in his 14-county district.
The letter arrived at the Lucas County Board of Elections Friday, Director LaVera Scott said. Melanie Gilders, director of the Fulton County Board of Elections, said her letter from Mr. Latta also arrived Friday.
“Four days from Bowling Green, I think it could definitely be better. But I’m not surprised because that’s average now. The only thing that we ever see next day — and this is not even 100 percent of the time — is Wauseon [mail] addressed to Wauseon,” Ms. Gilders said. She said that in 2009 and 2010, before the Toledo center closed, “we could easily get next-day delivery on most of our ballots that were in the county.”
In November, Fulton County reissued 70 absentee voter ballots that were not delivered or took longer than 10 days to arrive.
Henry County Board of Elections also received the Latta letter Friday.
Williams and Defiance county election boards received their letters on Thursday, the directors said.
Mr. Latta’s spokesman, Drew Griffin, said earlier this week that the letters were dropped off at the post office in Bowling Green on Monday. He said Friday that he could not say for sure that the letters didn’t go out Tuesday.
The envelopes indicate they were postmarked, or canceled, Tuesday at Metroplex.
Postal Service spokesman David Vanallen in Cleveland said that the First Class mail delivery standard within the 434, 435 and 436 ZIP Code areas is two days.
“The USPS will be reaching out to Congressman Latta to discuss the mailing,” Mr. Vanallen said.
In his letter, Mr. Latta informed the directors that post office staff are “taking steps to 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,” and that, “new absentee ballot handling procedures will be in place by next election to prevent lost ballots.”
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.
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