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Idaho Secretary Of State's Office Sees No Problem With USPS Election Mailer

A hand holding a pen filling out a voting ballot.
Jens Alfke

A U.S. Postal service mailer on how to vote this fall, which is the subject of at least one federal lawsuit, has started hitting mailboxes in Idaho.

The mailer offers up a checklist for voters who are casting a ballot through the mail this year. But the guidelines don’t necessarily line up with election laws, which differ from state to state.

For example, it gives timelines on when to request a ballot and mail it back and offers to connect the recipient with their state's specific statutes. 

Colorado has sued the Postal Service, saying its mailer will confuse voters there, who are automatically sent ballots without having to request one. A federal judge agreed and temporarily blocked further mailers from being sent there.

But the Postal Service’s checklist mostly lines up with guidelines from Idaho election officials, which is why Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said he doesn’t see the mailer as a problem.

“Idaho has so many options for people [to vote],” Houck said. 

You can request an absentee ballot right now, vote early in the coming weeks or register at the polls and cast a ballot on Election Day. Houck said to request and mail back your ballot as early as possible.

Your county clerk must have your ballot by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 for it to be counted if you vote absentee, whether it was mailed in or dropped off in-person.

“It’s very, very difficult to have a situation where someone doesn’t have an opportunity to exercise their right to vote,” he said.

But problems have arisen in the past, including in Idaho’s all-absentee primary election in May. The Secretary of State’s server capacity was overrun with online ballot requests the day of the deadline, freezing the ability of some people to get a ballot.

A federal lawsuit eventually extended the deadline.

Houck said the agency has since switched to a new system and added server capacity to handle last-minute requests.

The Idaho Secretary of State's office also sent out its own mailer last week reiterating voter deadlines and explaining the election process. A more substantial voter guide is expected to be mailed out to every household across the state, Houck said, toward the end of September.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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