Mail-in voting not a concern for county officials

Mail-in voting not a concern for county officials

Despite claims that the postmaster general has been deliberately slowing the United States Postal Service nationally, Island County officials say they are confident that voting here will be unaffected.

According to a press release, Congressman Rick Larsen, who represents Washington’s second congressional district, was among those who voted for bipartisan legislation this past Saturday protecting the USPS from any changes to operations or service levels.

This includes prohibiting the removal of mail sorting machines and mailboxes, other than for routine maintenance.

“The United States Postal Service is not a luxury — it is a necessity,” Larsen said in the press release.

“Washingtonians rely on the postal service to cast their votes, fill lifesaving prescriptions, conduct business and stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors. This bill will put a stop to policies like prohibiting overtime and removing sorting machines that endanger Americans’ health, harm the economy and undermine voting rights.”

The bill, called the Delivering for America Act, also provides $25 billion in emergency funding for the USPS, which has been suffering from a lack of funds.

But not all Post Office locations have been feeling the impact.

Greenbank Postmaster Lisa Livingstone said she has not noticed a change in service, but what she has noticed is a larger volume of packages since the start of the pandemic.

“We do our best to get everything delivered when it comes to us,” Livingstone said.

Ernie Swanson, USPS Communications Specialist for Washington state, echoed this sentiment, saying there hasn’t been any major changes lately.

The mail is still being processed and delivered six days out of the week, he said.

“There shouldn’t be any serious changes,” Swanson said.

Island County Elections Supervisor Michele Reagan said she is not worried about mail-in ballots.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Reagan said. “The ballots will go out on schedule. Voters have until the day of the election to have it postmarked.”

She added that as long as the ballot is postmarked by the election date, it will be counted, even if it arrives after Nov. 3.

As always, voters are welcome to use a ballot drop box in lieu of their own mail boxes. Reagan said the ballot drop boxes are accessed by county staff, not the Postal Service.

According to the county’s website, ballot drops boxes are located at Oak Harbor City Hall, the Island County Election Office in Coupeville, Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland, Ken’s Korner in Clinton and the front patio of the Langley Post Office.

If sending ballots by mail, USPS is recommending ballots be sent seven days before election day.

Reagan recommends that people vote early.