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VERIFY: No, adding a stamp to your absentee or mail-in ballot won’t make USPS process it faster

Claims have been circulating social media saying that mail-in and absentee ballots will be processed faster if sent with a stamp. But, is this true?

SPOKANE, Wash. — In just about two months, Americans will cast their ballot for the next President of the United States. 

As campaign seasons kicks into high gear, there’s no shortage of claims circulating online about mail-in and absentee voting.

A KREM viewer recently reached out to the Verify team to ask about adding a stamp to a postage-paid ballot.

Chris wrote, “Saw this on Facebook, is it true? Adding a stamp to your postage paid ballot will force USPS [United States Postal Service] to handle it as first-class instead of bulk. Please spread the word.”

Sources

Our sources to verify this claim are Idaho Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck and Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton.

Houck helps oversee all elections in Idaho, while Dalton is at the helm for elections in Spokane County.

Will a stamp change my ballot from bulk to First Class Mail?

“I’m going to answer that for that state of Washington. And, the answer is, 'no',” Dalton said.

Washington is a vote-by-mail state, and last year began paying the postage for all ballots. Dalton stressed that adding additional postage in an effort to get your ballot back to the elections office quicker just isn’t necessary.

“[It's] because with business reply, it’s already first-class mail,” Dalton said. “So, it’s already been given priority. It’s already being handled in the two-to-five day window.”

What about Idaho? While the May primary was conducted entirely through absentee ballot because of the pandemic, in November, Idaho voters will be able to vote in-person at their polling places or absentee.

If a person wants to vote absentee and requests that a ballot is mailed to you, elections officials recommend checking that the return envelope includes postage.

“So, Idaho statues do not require the counties to pay return postage on ballots,” Houck said. “It’s not a statewide standard. However, the majority of the counties do actually provide that postage on there now.”

Houck added that if the return envelope does have postage, adding another stamp isn’t necessary.

“In Idaho, as in Washington, we utilize only First Class Mail, both on the outbound and on the return, and so any of our bulk rate pre-paid postage meters that you’re going to see are going to be already rated at that first-class mail rate," Houck said.

Verdict

So, we can verify the claim that adding a stamp to your postage paid ballots will force the U.S. Postal Service to handle your ballot first-class instead of bulk in Washington and Idaho, is false.

Have something you want verified? Email our VERIFY team at verify@krem.com, text the word 'Verify' to 509-448-200, or leave Mark Hanrahan a voicemail at 509-838-7334.