Saturday, September 19, 2020
Voting Options Questioned Due to Post Office Chaos, Pandemic
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Wednesday, August 19, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

How to vote?

That’s the all-consuming question with just 77 days left until the 2020 November election.

The U.S. Postal Service has warned that it may not be able to get ballots to election offices in time because of lags in mail delivery. And it’s anyone’s guess at this point whether Wood River Valley residents will be able to vote in-person.

The Blaine County Election Office will begin early voting at the courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 13, provided the county is not seeing a surge in coronavirus that would cause the office to be closed to the public. Voters should bring identification and, if they’re not registered in Idaho, proof of residence.

Idaho’s Online Voter Registration system is offline until Aug. 26 due to upcoming county elections across the state on Aug. 25. The system will be back up and operational on Aug. 26.  To learn more, visit https://idahovotes.gov.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little is calling the legislature to Boise for a special session on Monday to deal with the November election in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Election officials are worried about the shortage of poll workers and how in-person voting can be handled safely.

Idaho’s May primary was mail-in voting only because of the pandemic. And Wood River Valley residents said it took weeks between the time they asked for and received their mail-in ballots. The Election Office mailed out 5,919 mail-in ballots in Blaine County and received 3,985 back.

Hailey Postmaster Ken Quigley has been praised by those at Blaine County’s Election Office for going out of his way to gather ballots by hand and deliver them to the Election office as deadlines approach.

Quigley, whose Hailey post office serves about 10,500 Hailey residents and some 17,000 packages a year, said the Wood River Valley has not had any mailboxes unbolted from their moorings and carted away as has happened in Portland, Eugene and other cities. Nor have any other procedures been put in place to slow down the mail locally.

Mail is still being sorted by machine in Boise, said John McDonald, the Ketchum postmaster: “There’s been absolutely no change in our post office.”

Elsewhere across the nation, however, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has reportedly removed mail processing equipment, eliminated overtime and slowed some mail delivery. DeJoy, who is reported to have financial stakes with competitors of the U.S. Post Office, has been accused of trying to handicap the Post Service to hinder mail-in voting.

But he said Tuesday he would suspend such changes after 20 states announced plans to file federal lawsuits. Changes have slowed the delivery of prescription medications and other vital services in some parts of the country.

Around the country some states are eyeing the use of ballot drop boxes that would bypass the Post Office and be placed in libraries and other public places.

The Blaine County Democrats are planning to have a drive encouraging people to get out and vote early. A spokesperson for the Blaine County Republicans has not responded. 

Quigley says he’s confident there will be no problem with vote-by-mail in Idaho.

“It’s safe to use mail-in ballots,” he added.


 

 

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