Incorrect Postage Costs Counties in Mail-In Voting

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SACRAMENTO -- A factory of democracy, if there were such a thing, would probably look something like the back of Sacramento’s Voter Registration office, with its ballot processing machines spinning out tens of thousands of mailed in ballots every day.

"I mean they're coming back like crazy right now. Like I said we got 27 trays of mail today,” said Jill Lavine, Sacramento County Registrar of Voters.

All the mail –filled with early-voter ballots. Lavine says 45,000 have been returned already.

The problem – many of them don't have the right amount of stamps. Some need two, but only have one. Others don’t have any stamps at all. Not to worry, even with no postage, your ballot will be counted.

"If it has an official election mail, it is not to be returned to the voter it is to come to us,” said Lavine.

No postage, however, means the county has to pay the post office for it.

"I don't have any experts in my office that know about stamping,” said Austin Erdman, Registrar of Voters in San Joaquin County.

Elections officials there expect to pay up to 10 thousand dollars this year for ballots with the wrong number of postal stamps.

But who checks what's right and what's wrong? It’s a huge job that no one seems to want. The county says usually the postal service does it, but this year…

"My staff has heard recently that they're asking us to look at the vote by mail…This is pretty unusual for us because usually they just give us a bill,” said Erdman.

Erdman says it’s a task that is literally impossible for his staff to do. They don’t have the people or the training to go thru tens of thousands of ballots and decide, by weight, how many stamps should be on each one, let alone what it all costs.

Erdman says he hasn’t received an explanation as to why the post office is demanding his office complete the task this year, but says his office won’t comply.

FOX40’s calls and messages to the post office regarding this issue also went unanswered.

It’s a dispute that needs a resolution fast. With each passing day, thousands of additional ballots come in.