Rep. Clyde Urges SOS Husted To Issue Directive Fixing Postmark Problems
Lawmaker seeks a definition of postmark and resolution of equal protection violation
January 20, 2016
[ Kathleen Clyde Home | Kathleen Clyde Press ]

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today sent the below letter to Secretary of State Jon Husted, urging him to issue a directive before Ohio’s March presidential primary to avoid the problems of recent past elections. Thousands of absentee ballots have been thrown out in previous elections for allegedly lacking a postmark.

See the letter below:

January 20, 2016

Secretary of State Jon Husted

180 East Broad Street, 16th floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Secretary Husted,

I write to urge you to issue a common sense directive on counting absentee ballots with postmark issues in time for Ohio’s presidential primary, when the eyes of the nation will be upon us. Ohio should not be throwing out ballots over postmark issues and confusion about the Postal Service’s process. Your guidance would ease the minds of voters and election officials and let ballots count. There is more at stake than a few thousand votes. While each and every vote is important, the confidence of Ohioans in our election system – with its increasing reliance on mail voting – is at stake. My bill, House Bill 309, would solve the postmark problem, but with no hearings on the bill only a directive can fix this unfortunate situation.

A new postmark directive should address the following:

1)      Let election officials know that any mark that indicates the date that the Postal Service took possession of the ballot will serve as a postmark under Ohio law. That could include a Postage Validated Imprint label, which is postage sold to customers at a post office counter, or a bar code that election officials can read with a scanner.

2)      Require that illegible postmarks or missing postmarks not be used as a reason to throw out a ballot. Ballots from overseas voters are counted regardless of illegible or missing postmarks. This differing treatment of domestic voters sets up an Equal Protection violation. It’s unfair and could lead to litigation.

3)      Permit election officials to use the ballot envelopes that work for their counties, not require the use of smaller business size envelopes. The thicker paper used for ballots will not hold up well from more folding to fit in smaller envelopes and the resulting thicker envelopes are likely to encounter problems with postal processing. We heard from both the Postal Service and the election officials at their recent gathering that this proposal is not workable. So let’s not adopt it.

The Postal Service regards postmarks as a tool to control their revenue stream, not as the key or barrier to accessing the right to vote. The postmark or cancellation indicates to the Post Office that the postage has been used and may not be used again. Election officials need instruction on what counts as a postmark for election purposes and what to do when a voter’s ballot does not get postmarked. Neither Ohio law nor federal law define postmark and this is exactly when directives are needed – to clarify and administer the law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. With the primary less than two months away, Ohioans need certainty that their ballots will count. 


Kathleen Clyde

State Representative

Featured Posts

Clyde Announces The Ohio Future Voter Act To Allow Voter Pre-registration


State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today introduced House Bill 637, the Ohio Future Voter Act, which would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Under the bill, pre-registered Ohioans would automatically be added to the state voter rolls before the next primary or general election in which they are eligible to vote.


Clyde Announces Legislation To Close Secret Money Loopholes In Ohio Campaigns


State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced her new plan to close secret money loopholes, increase transparency and strengthen the ban on foreign money in Ohio elections with new legislation, the Ohio Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or DISCLOSE ACT.


Rep. Clyde Announces $1.23 Million In State Funds For University Improvements, Investment In Local Business


State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced the release of over $1.23 million in state funds for various area projects, including improvements at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Kent State University (KSU) and Camp Ravenna.


Rep. Clyde Comments On House Passage Of Two-year State Budget Bill



State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) released the following statement after the Ohio House today passed House Bill (HB) 49, the two-year state budget largely along partisan lines.