Some Alaska voters are getting quite a surprise when they take their absentee ballots to the post office to get them certified and mailed in a timely fashion.
Even though U.S. Postal Service employees had previously been allowed to certify ballots as witnesses, a nationwide rule change now renders them unable to do so, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
"I went to the post office to mail my absentee ballot and even tho it says very clearly on the instructions that postal officials can sign your witness affidavit, the folks working the counter downtown said they were not allowed," tweeted Sheli DeLaney. "Why?"
Good question. Alaska along with several other states require absentee ballots to be signed by a witness who verifies the ballot was completed by that voter. The rule change is yet more evidence of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s efforts to sabotage mail balloting heading into the final months of the election. In this case, the little noticed alteration was made this summer and will make voting by mail particularly difficult for voters in rural areas who are more likely to mail their ballots.
Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai sent a letter to the Postal Service inquiring about the change and seeking "a copy of the official postal regulation," which was apparently news to her.
The response came from product management specialist Daniel Bentley: “Postal Employees are prohibited from serving as witnesses in their official capacity while on duty, due in part to the potential operational impacts. The Postal Service does not prohibit an employee from serving as a witness in their personal capacity off-duty, if they so choose."
Good news—the Postal Service isn't handcuffing postal employees in their off hours, just while they're on the clock.
Also, James Boxrud, a Postal Service spokesman for the western United States, said, “My understanding is this is a national thing that went out. It’s not just Alaska.”
Great, Boxrud sounds well versed too. He provided the Daily News with a training slide given to clerks in July that said, “Some state laws specifically authorize Postal Service employees to provide a witness signature on ballot envelopes. However, performing this function is not within the scope of a postal employee’s duties and is not required by the Postal Service’s regulations.”
Can’t imagine what other discoveries are waiting in the wings, courtesy of DeJoy.