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Idaho’s Secretary of State is responding to concerns about missing absentee ballot return postage by partnering with local grocery stores to provide stamps to voters seeking to mail back their completed ballots. The Idaho Press has more:
The Idaho Secretary of State is partnering with Albertsons and Safeway to help provide voters with the return postage needed to submit absentee ballots for the May 19 primary election.
In a virtual press conference Thursday, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said he had to reverse a previous statement that the state government would pay for the return postage of the absentee ballots, because some counties had not attached postage to the materials for absentee ballots.
To address the concern that some voters will not receive return postage, Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said voters can bring their return envelopes with their ballots to any participating Albertsons or Safeway to get a stamp for their ballot.
A list of statewide grocers who will give voters stamps can be found at idahovotes.gov/grocery.
Houck said voters will need to verify that they did not receive any return postage with their ballots. Voters should then put their ballot in the return envelope and sign the envelope. Once the voter gets the stamp from the grocery store, they need to place it in the mail themselves.
Houck announced that so far, 120,000 ballots have been requested; 80,000 ballots had been requested online through idahovotes.gov and another 40,000 had been requested through paper forms through county clerks’ offices.
Houck said the Secretary of State will be mailing paper absentee request forms to any voter who has not requested an absentee ballot yet…
To request a ballot online, voters can go to idahovotes.gov. The deadline to register to vote and request a ballot is May 19; this can also be on at idahovotes.gov. Ballots must be returned to county clerks by 8 p.m. June 2.
This program is an excellent example of a state election office doing what it can to make the best of a bad situation. While it was an oversight to omit return postage – and it isn’t ideal to send voters out to obtain stamps – using grocery stores as distribution points for postage is preferable to voters having no opportunity at all to return their ballots. Kudos to the SoS and its grocery partners for finding a way to make it work. I’ll be curious to see how many people take advantage of the program; I also wonder if this will push Idaho toward considering prepaid return ballot postage beyond 2020, as other states have begun to do. Don’t forget the eggs … and stay tuned!