Newly re-elected Secretary of State Kate Brown says she’s going to the Legislature to ensure that postage is not required on ballots.
That’s exactly what should happen. But it should have been straightened out long before the confusion that erupted in the final days of the campaign.
The confusion began when an Oct. 31 letter from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe surfaced. It seemed to suggest that Oregon State Elections Director Steve Trout asked the Postal Service — of all things — not to deliver ballots that lack sufficient postage.
It turns out that’s not what Trout did. What apparently happened is that the Postal Service made public its standing directive that it was going to deliver ballots with insufficient postage.
Oregon county clerks were confused. Some of them were worried about having the budget to pay the postage on hundreds or thousands of ballots. And Oregon law also requires mailed ballots to have postage.
So what Trout did was write the Postal Service on Oct. 24 that: “...we are having issues with the new direction coming down from the Postmaster General to deliver all ballots to election officials whether they have correct postage or not. While we appreciate that this policy is well intentioned, it is in direct conflict with Oregon state law and the practices we have had in place for years ...”
The Secretary of State’s Office says Trout brought the matter to Brown and Brown told him that all ballots should be delivered, accepted and counted — regardless of whether they have sufficient postage.
Trout sent an email on Oct. 26 to counties urging them to do just that.
Donahoe’s Oct. 31 letter was in reply to Trout’s first email from Oct. 24.
Insufficient postage should not get in the way of counting ballots. We’d argue that if legislators truly believe in removing barriers to voting, the state should pay the postage.