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“Just ridiculous” absentee votes get returned twice

Two weeks after Jerry and Celeste Brasuell voted by mail, their ballots were returned.
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 4:08 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Absentee ballots are for just that, if you were not home to vote in the election, you requested a ballot. But for a couple on their way to Knoxville an issue at the post office has them wondering if their votes will be counted.

“I find it concerning," said Daniel Brasuell.

Two weeks after Jerry and Celeste Brasuell voted by mail, their ballots were returned.

Their son, Daniel Brasuell, told WVLT his mom and dad requested their California ballots to be sent to his house while they visited.

But the post office told us the completed ballots were inadvertently returned to their sender due to having barcodes on both front and back of the envelopes.

This is USPS full statement:

"With a record number of people across the country voting by mail, the U.S. Postal Service’s number one priority between now and the November election is the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail and our primary focus is in taking the actions needed to achieve that goal.

Regarding two pieces of Election Mail sent from Knoxville to California, the ballots were inadvertently returned to their sender due to having barcodes on both front and back of the envelopes. On Wednesday, we dispatched both ballots to the board of election by Priority Mail Express and provided tracking information to our customers. The Postal Service regrets any concern caused."

USPS Spokesperson

So Daniel took them back to the post office.

“They said it was a fluke accident. They’d never seen it before and they took the ballot back and said it will be taken care of and sent it on its way," explained Daniel Brasuell.

WVLT News talked to Celeste and Jerry as they were driving.

“I don’t understand. Why does it not go where it is clearly marked,” said Celeste Brasuell.

USPS said the ballots were returned twice, blaming the barcodes on the mail was the problem.

A woman at the Trinity County Board of Elections office in California said they don’t know what’s wrong because they’ve not heard of any other problems with their absentee ballots.

The woman from the Trinity County BOE explained more than 50% of the ballots they sent out have been returned all of which have the same barcode.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Celeste Brasuell, “We were trying to do this the right way but, man, it’s just been really frustrating."

But this is what we know now, the USPS explained they have sent the ballots priority mail and gave the Brasuells a tracking number.

WVLT checked the number and the ballots are on the way to California.

“So now we feel like it’s good. We’ll be able to track it all the way through," said Daniel Brasuell.

The delivery is expected to arrive Friday afternoon in California.

In California, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received no later than 17 days after election day.

In Tennessee, there is no deadline for mailing an absentee ballot.

However, if it doesn’t arrive by the close of polls on election day it will not be counted.

Each county has designated a specific post office location for expedited ballot mailing locations. Voters will have until 3 PM on Election Day to drop off their absentee ballots at their location.

TN Expedited Ballot Mailing Locations in Each County

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