Updated: September 20, 2020 10:23 PM
Created: September 20, 2020 08:08 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As New Mexicans decide on who they’ll vote for this November, they’re also considering how they’ll cast their ballot in the middle of a global pandemic.
However, there’s another question looming: Can the U.S. Postal Service handle the influx of mail-in ballots this year? To get a better sense of the answer to that question, the 4 Investigates team conducted an experiment.
The KOB 4 Investigates team sent out 40 first-class letters with the approximate size and weight of a mail-in ballot. The test mailers were divided up evenly across Albuquerque’s four quadrants and mailed out on the same day. The mailers were dropped off at post offices in the heart of Albuquerque, stand-alone mail boxes in Old Town and in neighborhoods throughout the city. The letters were all addressed to a single location.
The test mailers were sent out of Friday, Sept 11. Eighty percent of the letters arrived within two business days. Ninety-five percent of the letters arrived within a week of being mailed.
According to the Postal Regulator’s June Quarter update, 92 percent of all first-class letters nationwide arrived within two days – that’s a faster rate than what our experiment showed this month. However, it’s important to note that the 4 Investigates test sample is much smaller than what the postal service handles.
In Washington, D.C., Postmaster General Louis DeJoy remains under fire for reducing resources to make the postal service more economically efficient.
A recent Congressional investigation found changes in operations led to a significant delay in prescription deliveries.
Many worry that the timing of the reductions could also affect the election.
“I understand that DeJoy is there to try to help Donald Trump and he thinks that if they can provide more tangle between now and November 3rd, that maybe some number of people will decide not to vote by mail and maybe won’t vote at all,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).
DeJoy has denied those allegations and has since promised ballots will be marked priority and that the postal service will delay further changes to operations until after the election.
"The postal service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nations ballots securely and on time," said DeJoy.
In New Mexico, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has received similar assurances regarding the ability of the postal service, including a letter this summer which indicated “your voters should have sufficient time.”
4 Investigator Nathan O’Neal: Are you confident that the postal service will be able to handle New Mexico’s needs?
Toulouse Oliver: “I am… they have assured us that the volume of mail even if every voter in the country were to vote by mail that it still wouldn’t approach the amount of mail they process during the holiday.”
New this year, New Mexico voters who choose to vote by mail will have the ability to track their ballot on NMVOTE.org much like an Amazon package.
“We’ll have an intelligent mail barcode on the envelope of every ballot so the voter will be able track their ballot as it's sent to them in the mail and if they choose to mail it back,” said Toulouse Oliver. “They'll be able to see where it's at in every step of the process -- and so will the postal service to make sure that vote gets to where it needs to go.”
President Trump has repeatedly raised concerns about mail-in ballots, saying it exposes the election process to widespread voter fraud.
While we have yet to see how this election will unfold, the President’s own voting integrity commission found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential election.
New Mexico Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver is confident the mail-in voting process will be secure and she is encouraging anyone who votes by mail to do so no later than Oct. 27 – which is one week before Election Day.
“If you find yourself after that window with a ballot at home or needing to go vote you can of course go vote in person at an early or election day voting place… or drop your ballot off at any of those locations as well – don’t chance it by putting it in the mail after Oct 27,” said Toulouse Oliver.
You can apply for your absentee ballot online via NMVOTE.org – and you can request your ballot up to two weeks before Election Day.
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