HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Hundreds of people in Hays County who were looking to vote early by mail sent off their ballot only to have it returned to them a few days later. Hays County election officials say it’s a problem with how the post office is separating mail.
“We’ve had just under 300 actually that we know of that were returned to people who mailed them with their voting card in it,” said Hays County spokesperson Laureen Chernow.
On each mail-in ballot there is a white sticker on the back with the voter’s name, address and a bar code that helps the elections office track their ballot.
“The post office appears to be reading the tracking number that’s on the back of the envelope,” said Chernow.
So, instead of sending it to the elections office it goes right back to where it came from. Hays County says they haven’t changed a thing, that the envelope they are using is the same envelope and process they have used for years.
“It’s set up by the Secretary of the State’s Office, so it’s not just Hays County doing something strange with an envelope, this is what’s required by law,” said Chernow.
The best tip to make sure your ballot arrives at the elections office, is to cover your address on the tracking sticker with a marker or white out, that way there’s only one address the post office can send it to and that’s the elections administrator.
“Since we’ve been made aware of the problem, we are sending them out pre-scratched out so that hopefully fewer of them will get caught in that system.”
Officials say if you do mark out your address, make sure your name and the bar code remains. KXAN has reached out to the United States Postal Service for comment. We’re told they are working on a statement, but we have not heard back.