BOZEMAN - With Election Day fast approaching on Nov. 8, it is important for Bozeman residents to receive their absentee ballots through the mail. Some Bozeman residents are still waiting for their absentee ballots to arrive with just over 2 weeks to spare.
"If we don't get it, we're going to have to go in and get another ballot because they're not taking away our right to vote," says Bozeman resident Tammy Parrent.
Bozeman residents like Mike Mahler are not just worried about other residents receiving their absentee ballots, but he says his mail delivery issues through USPS have been an ongoing problem.
“It started about four months ago when mail started to be erratic, maybe every other day, maybe every three days,” says Mahler.
Parrent says she has filed complaints with the USPS on Baxter Lane but has not gotten through to anyone working there.
“I have called trying to contact the local Baxter office. Nobody ever answers. It goes to an old old voicemail,” says Parrent.
Senator Steve Daines has written to the postmaster general about the mail delivery issues people are experiencing and stated this in his letter:
"These concerns are of particular importance given the upcoming election and several Montanans have contacted me to enquire when their ballots may be delivered. As you know, USPS is a critical partner in connecting eligible Montana voters with polls."
Receiving ballots while Election Day is coming up is something some voters are most concerned about. Kevin Kennedy says it seems as though the only option for troubleshooting this problem is to go through USPS.
“I called the county elections office and I said why don't you guys have power, and he says no. Once we get the ballots to the post office, it's out of our hands,” says Kennedy.
Kennedy believes not receiving absentee ballots is a bigger concern than people may think.
“It goes against everything that the country stands for,” says Kennedy.
USPS released this statement as to why there has been a delay for people to receive their ballots and mail:
“The U.S. Postal Service is fully committed between now and the November election to the secure and timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail and fulfilling our role in the electoral process when public policy makers choose to utilize us as a part of their election system. We employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all Election Mail, including ballots.
Regarding service in Bozeman County, MT; we are aware of some ballots that were returned to election officials due to improper addresses. Ballots typically cannot be forwarded if the mailpiece is not properly addressed
. Accurate and updated addresses are necessary to help ensure the timely delivery of Election Mail. Please check with the county regarding the disposition of these ballots.
The Postal Service is currently experiencing low employee availability. We are utilizing all available resources currently, including bringing in carriers from outside the area to deliver the mail and meet our commitments. Additionally, we are in the process of aggressively recruiting, evaluating and hiring qualified candidates for vacancies in the area with postings on our website at usps.com/careers [gcc02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com].
We are also using our longstanding, proven processes and procedures to securely and efficiently deliver Election Mail heading into the November election, including daily all clear checks in all area facilities.
As a reminder, for domestic, nonmilitary voters who choose to use the mail to return a completed ballot, our general recommendation is that, as a common-sense measure, you should mail your completed ballot before Election Day, and at least one week before the deadline by which their completed ballot must be received by their local election official. Some states may recommend allowing even more time for mailing completed ballots. You should always check to make sure you understand your state’s requirements and recommendations on mailing your completed ballot. You can look for information about your state’s requirements and recommendations here: Find your state election website[gcc02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com].
Voters are further reminded to check collection times posted on collection boxes and at Post Office locations and retail facilities. Also, be mindful of when mail is delivered and picked up at their residential mailbox. Ballots deposited after the collection time won’t be picked up, or postmarked, until the following day.”