Voters lose due to postal service’s late mail delivery |

Voters lose due to postal service’s late mail delivery

An eagle-eyed reader of The Union notes that volumes were spoken by the headlines atop the front page of two consecutive editions last week.

On Thursday, as the vote for Nevada City treasurer came to the wire, the headline read: “Does one vote matter? Look here.”

Then, the next day, we wrote:

“More than 200 ballots delivered late”

And because those absentee ballots were delivered late to the Elections Office, more than 200 voters in Nevada County were disenfranchised. Those voters, who took the time to educate themselves about candidates and issues and put the energy into casting an absentee ballot, were stripped of their voice. Might their votes have changed the results of one or more of the local races? Might we have a different municipal government in Nevada City? Might the momentum of the county supervisor races have shifted?

There’s nothing that can be done now. But the U.S. Postal Service should feel the sting of public reproach over its failure.

These ballots weren’t cast by the sort of voters who cut things close. Some of the delivered late to the Elections Office in Nevada City had been postmarked Feb. 28. Voters had every reason to believe they had left plenty of time to deliver their ballots, even if the ballots needed to travel from Grass Valley down to Marysville, then back to the Elections Office.

What they didn’t know was that mechanical problems snarled mail traveling through the Marysville sorting center. They didn’t know of the problem because the postal service managers at the Marysville center didn’t tell them.

Nor, for that matter, did the postal service bother to warn election officials that some ballots might be hung up.

Nor is there any evidence that the postal service executives in Marysville took any extraordinary steps to help protect the votes of folks whose ballots were delayed by the mechanical problems.

None of us can reasonably expect that the U.S. Postal Service or any other organization will be perfect. But we expect them to let the rest of us know when a problem is coming so we can make plans.

We expect better than this from the postal service.

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