Election office pays postage on absentee ballots when necessary

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As envelopes bearing absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election pour in to the election office, some don’t bear adequate postage. Some bear no postage at all.

They get delivered anyway.

Flathead County’s election office taps a “postage due account” to cover the difference whenever an absentee ballot shows up with insufficient postage.

On Tuesday, Monica Eisenzimer, election office manager, said absentee ballot instructions note that 50 cents is an estimated amount for postage for the return envelope. She said instructions were printed before it emerged that voters would be considering a two-page ballot — weighty issues in a weightier format.

The current value of a single “forever” postage stamp is 50 cents.

Two county residents were recently told separately by post-office clerks that the absentee ballot envelopes required 71 cents in postage. Eisenzimer said she has heard that figure quoted.

One resident was Ken Spaid, who lives in the Bigfork area.

He said he went to the Bigfork Post Office this week with his absentee ballot envelope. He anticipated 50 cents would be adequate postage, but learned from the clerk that 71 cents was required, he said. He paid that amount.

Spaid said he started worrying that an untold number of fellow residents of Flathead County might get their ballots back in the mail from the postal service and end up missing the election.

“That could have been a huge thing,” he said.

Eisenzimer said it is a longstanding county practice to pay postage due on absentee ballots, adding that she believes some people take advantage of that policy by intentionally returning their ballots without a lick of postage.

For absentee voters who want to do the right thing, she has this advice, “Weigh it before you mail it, always.”

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