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Some absentee ballots may be lost

Find out what to do if yours is late

Nov. 2, 2012 - 02:17PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 2, 2012 - 02:17PM  |  
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A contractor in Afghanistan who was worried about his absentee ballot getting lost said his ballot has now reappeared in the U.S. Postal tracking system.

But he still questions why there was a five-week delay.

The tracking system was updated sometime the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 2 to reflect that his ballot had reached a New York mail facility. Early that same morning, the contractor sent an email to Military Times expressing concern that his county elections clerk in Texas had not received his ballot or his co-worker's ballot by Nov. 1, although they mailed the ballots Sept. 27. "The Bagram Airfield Army post office placed Express mail tracking numbers on them, placed the ballots in an orange ‘Ballot Box,' and probably in a dedicated mail bag.

"If our ballots got lost, how many other ballots are lost as well?" he wrote. Their mail travels through the military postal system in Afghanistan along with troops' mail and other civilians' mail.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Postal Service tracker showed those ballots were still in Bahrain, and had been sitting there since Sept. 30.

It's unknown whether other ballots may have been affected.

DoD spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan said Friday that to her knowledge, ballots were not stuck in Bahrain.

She said DoD has verified that all absentee ballots at Bahrain have "departed the Bahrain Military Postal Facility on a [U.S. Postal Service]-contracted air carrier destined for a U.S.P.S. international service center in the United States."

U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Katina Fields confirmed that her agency is working with military postal service officials to determine what happened to the ballots.

"We are investigating reports of possible missing military election ballots. We take this situation very seriously and expect to resolve this matter as quickly as possible," Fields said.

Once the ballots reach the U.S., they are the responsibility of the U.S. Postal Service. Until then, they are the responsibility of the Military Postal Service Agency.

The contractor in Afghanistan has mailed a replacement ballot. Texas will accept absentee ballots mailed from outside the U.S. until Nov. 12, if they are postmarked by Nov. 6.

Military and overseas voters who mailed their ballots by Military Express Mail can check the whereabouts of their ballot using the tracking number and the U.S. Postal Service website. If there's been plenty of time for the ballot to get there and it hasn't, voters can mail a backup ballot, the">Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Local election officials have mechanisms in place so that they will only count one ballot.

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