WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) today called on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to make all possible effort to ensure that Iowa absentee ballots are counted. Specifically, the senators issued a letter to the district managers of the Hawkeye District USPS and the Central Plains District USPS urging them to ensure that ballots receive legible postmarks between now and Election Day. Under Iowa state law, ballots received on Election Day or after may only be counted if they are postmarked one day prior to the election. The USPS does not routinely postmark business reply mail envelopes, including ballots, leaving many Iowans at risk of being disenfranchised.
“We must make all possible effort to ensure that every ballot receives a legible postmark between now and Election Day, next Tuesday, November 4,” said Grassley and Harkin. “We respectfully request that the Postal Service instruct its staff across the state to take the actions necessary to ensure that every ballot is postmarked, ensuring that each Iowa vote that is properly cast can also be properly counted.”
The full text of the senators’ letter is below.
October 30, 2014
Hawkeye District United States Postal Service
7900 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA 50324-4400
Central Plains District United States Postal Service
6005 Lockheed Court
P.O. Box 199500
Omaha, NE 68119
Dear Mr. Herrman and Mr. Pivovar:
As you may be aware, Iowa state law currently requires that ballots received on Election Day or after may only be counted if they are postmarked one day prior to the election. Because the United States Postal Service does not routinely postmark business reply mail envelopes, including ballots, many Iowans are at risk of being disenfranchised by not having a legitimately cast ballot counted.
This is particularly problematic given that Iowans have chosen to vote early in 2014 at a rate unprecedented in a non-Presidential election year. Already nearly 400,000 Iowans have requested to vote by mail. While the majority of those voters have returned their ballots already, thousands of voters will mail their ballots in the final days before November 4.
We recognize that business reply mail is not required to be postmarked. Indeed a survey by county auditors in local elections last year found that most ballots were not postmarked, and that whether or how many ballots were postmarked was not consistent from one county to the next.
However, we are calling on you to recognize the critical Constitutional right at stake and make every effort to ensure that every ballot receives a legible postmark between now and the election next Tuesday, November 4. We respectfully request that you instruct your staff across the states to take the actions necessary to ensure that every ballot is postmarked and thus ensure that every Iowa vote that is properly cast can also be properly counted this year.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter.