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2018 election: What happens to a ballot without a stamp

If you're out of stamps, don't worry. The Postal Service will still get your ballot to the elections office.

The Postal Service will still mail out your ballot, even without a stamp.

Generally, all mail needs a postage stamp in order to get through the United States Postal Service’s mail stream. This would include the absentee or vote-by-mail ballot.

However, if you’re worried about how much postage your ballot needs to go out, don’t worry too much. The post office will still ensure that your ballot gets to the county elections office.

“In cases where postage on returning Absentee or Vote-By-Mail ballots have not been affixed or is insufficient, it is the US Postal Service’s policy to not delay returning ballots to the appropriate Board of Election [Registrar of Voters] as addressed on the return ballot envelope,” said Meiko Patton, spokesperson for USPS.

“The Postal Service is steadfast in our commitment to support democracy. We will not deny a voter their right to vote by delaying a time-sensitive ballot because of insufficient postage.”

Who pays for it?

In the event that a ballot gets mailed without the right postage, the mail service will charge the county elections office for the postage cost.

According to Patton, many election offices have postage due accounts to pay for insufficient postage. When Sacramento County voters don't put the right postage on their ballot, the Sacramento County elections office picks up the charge from the postal service, according to county elections spokesperson Janna Haynes.

That being said, the “preferred method” is to have the voter pay the postage when the ballot gets mailed out. The post office can then notify them of insufficient postage before the ballot enters the mail stream.

For those who want to follow the preferred method of mailing their ballot, they can calculate the postage necessary. This can vary based on the weight and size of the ballot.

First-class mail for letter-size mail piece:

  • Rate: $0.50 for the first oz.
  • $0.21 for the additional oz. (up to 3.5 oz.)

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