Monday, August 04, 2014
The missing absentee ballots—is a vendor responsible?
by Larry Geller
It took a few phone calls, but I learned today that there is a vendor involved in the mailing of the absentee ballots to voters who requested them. So if a person did not receive their ballot, it could be a problem with this third-party arrangement.
The story is not yet complete—I hope the City Clerk’s office will be able to investigate and provide more information. I left my contact information in case they do investigate. But here’s what I learned so far.
We went to Honolulu Hale to vote in person because our ballots have not arrived. The clerk added us to a list of absentee ballot numbers that would have to be cancelled in the computer because of the in-person votes.
Now, the reason people voted in person is not known specifically—for example, someone could have spoiled their ballot. Most likely, though, as I found out separately, some people just never got their absentee ballots. The clerk at Honolulu Hale told me that several people reported to him that they had not received their absentee ballots.
It’s probably hard to say how many people did not receive ballots. Sure, the vast majority of voters got theirs promptly. And how many times does the US Post Office go wrong? Really, the percentage must be negligible.
So there should be some investigation to estimate just how many ballots were not delivered. Is there a shoebox someplace with yet unmailed ballots?
The City Clerk’s office is responsible for mailing the ballots. They, in turn, hired a vendor, named as EMSS. Our ballots were mailed (or should have been mailed) by the vendor at the end of June or by early July. Today is August 4, that’s too long to wait.
Knowing how the universe works, having written and posted this article, our ballots will arrive in the next mail. Still, it’s August 4, many people can’t get over to Honolulu Hale to vote in person as we did because they can’t get away from work.
As to requesting that a duplicate ballot be mailed to us, at this point I don’t even know if I have faith that the mailed-in ballots would be properly counted. I hope there’s no vendor involved in that process. So we went in and voted in person, but we should not have had to.
I suspect "user error" in a vast majority of the cases (perhaps not your but...) If someone is a first time registrant or changed their mailing address you aren't going to get it if you made a mistake or they didn't read it right. But more importantly, if you changed your mailing address and didn't tell them the PO will not forward it and you will not get an absentee by-mail ballot. That last one, I suspect, is the case more often than not.
Definitely NOT a problem on our part. We've received absentee ballots automatically for the past several elections. We haven't moved. When I called the county clerk office she verified my address and told me it had been mailed early July. When I voted at Honolulu Hale I was flagged as having been sent an absentee ballot and he put my name on list to cancel the absentee ballot if it is sent in. The list was not short. He told me a number of people complained about not receiving their absentee ballots.