The Maryland State Board of Elections is raising a warning over information that the U.S. Postal Service sent nationwide, which provides general guidance for those who choose to vote by mail.
The state board said there are a couple of inconsistencies between what the USPS mailer recommends and Maryland procedures for voting by mail.
The postal service mailer reads: “Request your mail-in ballot (often called absentee ballot) at least 15 days before Election Day.” But 15 days may not be enough time in Maryland.
“We are encouraging voters who want to vote by mail to submit their request by Oct. 15 to make sure that there’s enough time for it to get to the local board of elections office by Oct. 20,” said Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections.
The USPS mailer also tells voters to “Add postage to the return envelope, if needed.” But Maryland mail-in ballots come with a postage-paid return envelope.
The state board also pointed out that the national mailer makes no reference to Maryland’s special ballot drop boxes, in addition to returning the ballots by mail.
“We are going to be installing about 270 ballot drop-off boxes around the state, and those boxes are emptied twice a day by local boards of elections so you can drop your voted ballot off in one of the boxes and not rely on the United States Postal Service to return those ballots,” Charlson said.
The U.S. Postal Service said the national mailer is intended to give the voter general guidance on mail-in voting regardless of where they live.
“Our mailer was intended to be general all-purpose guidance on the use of the mail and not guidance on state rules,” said U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Marti Johnson.
Johnson acknowledged that “each state has its own approaches, rules and deadlines.”
The U.S. Postal Service also said that its mailer includes a link leading voters to the their local elections board.