Sen. Dick Durbin: “Request the ballot no later than October 19”

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is talking with the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Specifically, he addressed concerns that mail-in ballots won’t be delivered in time for November’s election. He said the 2020 election mail director told him residents should request their ballot by Oct. 19 to be sure their vote gets counted.

Durbin said the USPS is recommending residents to return their ballot by Oct. 27. Congress is set to vote Saturday on giving USPS $25 billion in relief funding. It’s something Durbin believes is needed.

“People across this country. over 90 percent of them, approve of our postal service. It is a major supplier of medications for veterans and elderly people who have no easy access to pharmacies,” Durbin said.

Durbin said the 2020 election mail director discussed whether the USPS will have enough capacity for this year’s election.

“[He said] ‘We have plenty of capacity at the postal service. The election mail represents 2-5 percent of the total volume of mail. 2-5 percent,'” Durbin said. “He went on to say we don’t have any concerns about capacity. In terms of the overtime issue, no issues on overtime. We’ll have the overtime if we need it.”

Durbin said his concerns come after the USPS sent a letter out to 46 states, including Illinois. The letter stated there were concerns in the state’s timelines for when to return and request ballots.

Durbin said he shares a concern with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) for how the USPS ‘treats’ its mail.

“There are two different ways for the postal service to treat the mail,” Durbin said.

“It can be returned by first-class mail, that is mailing out the ballots and returning the ballots, or by something called marketing mail which is 1/3 of the cost. Naturally, the election authorities, without the federal resources which we hope to send them, are trying to find the most economical way to do their job.”

Durbin said USPS representatives told him they “consider it a priority” and will give it a “special demarcation” which comes down to the discretion of the postal authorities at how they treat the discounted mail. In other words, it will determine whether they treat ballots as first-class mail.

Durbin said he hopes the election mail gets treated as first-class mail. He added even if a vote doesn’t get counted on Election Day, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t count.

“If your mail is postmarked no later than election day, under Illinois law, if it is received by the election authorities within 14 days after the election, it will be counted. Many states don’t have that provision, we do,” Durbin said.

The U.S. Presidential Election is on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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