Absentee Ballots Come With Added Cost To Oklahoma Voters

<p>The Oklahoma State Election Board recommends voters skip the long lines on Nov. 8 by mailing in an absentee ballot. What many may not know, however, is that it is the voter's responsibility to pay for their own postage.</p>

Friday, October 14th 2016, 3:16 pm

By: News 9

More than two million people are registered to vote in Oklahoma, and that means long lines are guaranteed at the polls on Nov. 8. Election offices are encouraging you to cast your ballot early, but it will cost you extra to vote by mail.

With all the state questions on top of the individual race and local initiatives, there is more paper and therefore more money involved in sending an absentee ballot.

Carolee Wende got her absentee ballot in the mail this week. After making her selections, she placed the ballot in its envelope, which she then placed into an affidavit envelope which she notorized at the bank, and finally, she placed it in the outer envelope ready to send.

In Oklahoma, voters are responsible for paying the postage on election materials.

“It only said ‘postage here,’ and it was just in this small little area. It did not say how much,” says Wende.

Carolee noticed all of the documents were sent to her for 20 cents more than the cost of one stamp, so she called the Oklahoma County Election Board to check on the price.

“It weighs a little bit too much for one stamp, but too little for two stamps, but yet they never told us this anywhere,” Wende said.

Because each county has its own ballots, they vary in length, and letting voters know how much it will cost to send is up to the county, not the state. 

“When you have a large ballot like we have this time, a number of envelopes that have to go in the big envelope that gets mailed back, it’s just important to know ahead of time,” said State Elections Secretary Paul Xiriax. 

He says adding a second stamp is just one option.

“If I don’t have time I might just put an extra stamp on it just to make sure that it has enough postage,” said Xiriax, “or you can take it down to the post office. They’ll weigh it for you and tell you exactly how much postage you need. You pay them right here.”

Wende says the Oklahoma County employee she spoke with admitted they have advised voters about extra postage in the past, but failed to add that information to the instructions this year. Now, she just wants other voters to be aware.

“This is the first time I’ve done an absentee ballot and I wanted to do it correctly,” said Wende. “I didn’t want to get it back for insufficient postage with only two days left before the election.”

Xiriax says he does not know of absentee ballots being returned to voters for having too little postage in previous elections.

There are multiple ways to request an absentee ballot. You can fill out the form at your county election board office, or use the Oklahoma elections website to sign up as an absentee voter. For more information, click here.

County office phone numbers are also listed on the state election website if you want specific information about postage.

You can mail in your ballot any time before Election Day, as long as your county office receives it by Nov. 8. You can also vote in person at your county office the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Election Day.


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