Unknown number of absentee ballots returned to sender

An undetermined number of absentee ballots have been returned to Albuquerque voters because of an error involving a U.S. Postal Service mail-sorting machine, officials said this week.

A Postal Service spokesman said Thursday he did not know how many absentee ballots were returned to the sender rather than being delivered to Bernalillo County elections officials.

Postal Service employees have been instructed to deliver all absentee ballots to the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, said John Friess, a Denver-based spokesman for the agency.

“Issues such as these are isolated and the vast majority of ballots are being delivered to elections officials without incident,” Friess said in a written statement.

“We instruct our employees to make certain any ballots accidentally returned to the sender be expedited to county elections officials,” he said.

Leon Faubion of Albuquerque said he mailed three absentee ballots on Monday, and was startled that one of the ballots was returned Wednesday to his Northeast Heights home.

Faubion said a supervisor at the Steve Schiff Post Office, 9719 Candelaria NE, explained that a bar-code reader had misread the return address on the ballot envelope as the delivery address.

The supervisor said that the mistake had occurred with other absentee ballots, Faubion said.

An employee at the Steve Schiff Post Office referred the Journal ‘s questions to U.S. Postal Service media relations.

Joey Keefe, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, said Postal Services officials reported that they had received “a few calls” from voters who complained that their ballots had been returned undelivered.

Postal Service officials provided assurances “that all absentee ballots, or anything election-related, should be returned to the clerk’s office regardless of the issues,” Keefe said.

The clerk’s office has mailed out more than 26,000 absentee ballots, of which nearly half had been returned by Wednesday, Keefe said.

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