Nevada County elections office plans for potential mail problems
The Nevada County elections office is planning for how recent mail delivery issues might affect November ballots, and has ways residents can be prepared, too, officials said Tuesday.
According to Nevada City resident Sid Heaton, he went days without any mail delivered for the first time since moving to the area 20 years ago. Heaton said it’s no coincidence the issues started just as the United States Postal Service reportedly changed policy to disallow overtime that ensures mail carriers and clerks can complete deliveries each day.
“Amazon was notifying me I had packages due on a daily basis and the mailbox would turn up empty,” Heaton said. “Rarely do you see a policy at the federal level have an immediate effect on your life. It feels like (the policy) changes two weeks ago and boom — I don’t get mail for the first time in 20 years.”
U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the changes were necessary to get the postal service out of a years-long financial crisis. DeJoy cited a June report that found the postal service spent $2.9 billion in delivery overtime and penalty overtime, $1.1 billion in mail processing overtime and penalty overtime, and $280 million in late and extra transportation costs the last fiscal year with no improvement in service performance score.
The changes come after the postal service in April told Congress it would run out of money in September, requesting $75 billion in emergency funding. The agency instead last week came to a $10 billion loan agreement with the U.S. Department of Treasury that comes with conditions requiring reform.
“Access to an additional $10 billion in borrowing authority will delay the approaching liquidity crisis,” DeJoy said in a release. “The Postal Service, however, remains on an unsustainable path and we will continue to focus on improving operational efficiency and pursuing other reforms in order to put the Postal Service on a trajectory for long-term financial stability.”
While voting by mail locally has been successful in Nevada County, Assistant Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Natalie Adona said the county is aware of and making preparations for any potential mail issues.
According to Adona, the state extended the deadline for mailed ballots this election, counting ballots received by Nov. 20 so long as they are signed, sealed and postmarked by election day — Nov. 3.
Ballots will be mailed out Oct. 5, but people can alert the elections office if they do not receive one and will get a replacement.
The U.S. Postal Service recommends voters mail in their ballots at least a week before the election. The county will also have several drop box locations where people can deposit their ballots in person.
People are also able to sign up for BallotTrax, a service that provides text or email updates about the status of their mailed ballot.
Adona encouraged voters with questions or concerns to call the elections office at 530-265-1298.
“Everyone wants to be able to rely on their mail service, especially during a pandemic,” Heaton said.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
Update 8/10: This article was updated to clarify the U.S. Postal Service’s recommendations.
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This story will be updated as more votes are counted. The results must be certified by Oct. 22.