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Some MD voters worry ballots won't be counted even after USPS halt changes until after election

Two Charles County voters said they plan to vote in person because of the mail issues they've had recently.

CHARLES COUNTY, Md. — After the public outcry over USPS issues, the postmaster general announced Tuesday that he would be halting changes until after the election. But, some Maryland voters are not convinced their ballots will be counted in the mail.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy shared a statement that read in part: 

"I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded."

RELATED: Postmaster delays cost-cutting until after election, but USPS is still hemorrhaging money

Voters who have had issues receiving and sending mail recently said that announcement does not reassure them.

“I want to see the actions more than the words," Mary-Jo Kamin, who lives in Charles County, said. "With everything being so slow right now, I understood it in the beginning when we all stayed in quarantined, but things got better, and now they’re slower than before."

She said she is still waiting on a package to be delivered that was shipped from less than 9 miles away in Maryland four days ago. Now, her tracking information shows it's in Ohio.

RELATED: Postmaster General suspends some changes amid outcry, lawsuits

Ericka Best, who lives in Charles County but works at a nonprofit in D.C., said she's had problems receiving mail both at home and work.

“We’ve had a lot of issues back and forth between missing mail and missing packages, some packages arriving just ruined, shredded checks and things like that," Best said. "Most recently, I’ve experienced a lot of delays on a personal note…a lot of the mail that I’ve received has taken forever. For instance, I got a card in the mail from a friend. She told me she mailed it about 10 days before the time I received it."

When it comes to voting in the November election, both Best and Kamin are concerned about COVID-19, but even more worried about using USPS to vote.

“I don’t trust mail-in voting right now, with the way the service is," Kamin said. "And we have actually only been going out if we have to go out, but we will go out of this household and vote in person.”

Best said she is concerned a lot of votes won't be counted this year.

“It's a great concern for me," she said. "I requested a ballot to be mailed to me, just given everything that’s going on, and quite honestly, I’m afraid to even mail the ballot." 

The Community Engagement and Public Information Officer for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, Gilberto Zelaya, said they will make sure constituents have alternatives to vote-by-mail this election.

“The first thing we’re encouraging our voters is to have a vote plan and to be vote ready," Zelaya said. "Even though there’s a lot of noise surrounding USPS, we will have designated ballot drop boxes located around Montgomery County specifically in our 11 early voting centers…so we got you covered. They’re secure. We have two bipartisan staff members, emptying out those ballot bins between once to twice a day every day, including Sunday, rain or shine.”

RELATED: Restaurant workers facing hostility from customers as they try to enforce mask order

Credit: Montgomery County Board of Elections
The Montgomery County Board of Elections said they will offer ballot boxes for voters to drop off their ballots if they don't feel comfortable mailing them in.

Zelaya recommends not waiting until Nov. 3 to mail in a ballot to ensure that it makes it to the Board of Elections in time.

“Get a vote plan," he said. "Request a vote by mail. Vote your ballot and identify your closest dropbox to your residential address and send it back to the Board of Elections." 

If you need to register to vote, Zelaya said text VOTE to 77788. To review or update your voter registration, text CHECK to 77788. To request vote by mail, text VBM to 77788, and the system will send the appropriate link or 777vote.org.

Zelaya also said that the vote-by-mail packets will contain a list of locations for the ballot boxes, which will be set up by the start of early voting on October 26.

He made a plea for people to sign up to work the polls. He said individuals can earn up to $310 or 25 student service learning credits each day. Anyone interested can text SERVE to 77788.

Both Best and Kamin said they hope these issues and obstacles don't discourage anyone from voting.

"Don’t let that stop us from voting," Best said. "It’s our right."

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