The Mail-in Mission Pt. 1: 1,000 miles, 56 ballots, one investigation

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The U.S. Postal Service and mail-in voting has served as fuel in a political firestorm as we creep closer to the November 2020 Presidential election.

Concerns about crowds and COVID-19 have led lawmakers across the country, including in Missouri and Arkansas, to loosen restrictions on absentee voting and allow mail-in voting in the upcoming election.

This brought up concerns about mail-in voting and its reliability from President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Democrats expressed concern about funding to the USPS.

KOLR10 Anchors David Oliver and Heather Lewis, along with Political Analyst Dr. Brian Calfano addressed these concerns head-on and put our local mail system to the test.

Our investigative team rented a small mailbox at the Glenstone Post Office in Springfield.

They duplicated the exact envelope size and inserted a replica of the ballot inside the envelope, so the mail matched the size and weight of what you’d send back to the Greene County Clerk.

It’s important to note: you must request a mail-in ballot. No clerk in Missouri will send you one if you do not request it. The deadline to make that request is October 21 at 5:00 p.m.

David and Heather addressed 42 envelopes to the rented post office box. They chose 14 drop sites and dropped the replica ballots off on three different days. The list of drop locations is at the bottom of this story.

David and Heather mailed on two regular weekdays, and a Saturday. All three days, the ballots were dropped in the blue boxes before the posted pick up time.

Here are the results:

Sent:
14 envelopes sent Thursday, September 10

Received:
14 envelopes received in the PO Box Friday, September 11

Sent:
14 envelopes sent Saturday, September 12

Received:
13 envelopes received Monday, September 14
One received Tuesday, September 15

Sent:
14 envelopes sent Monday, September 14

Received:
14 envelopes received Tuesday, September 15

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller said he is not surprised all 42 pieces of mail made it to the intended destination.

“Of course we’re still strongly recommending people mail a week out,” Schoeller said, “But I’ve had a sense that even if they wait till that Thursday or Friday to put that ballot in the mail, even if they are in Greene county, that it’s still going to arrive. Now we’re not recommending that.”

Schoeller told us he’s preparing for an onslaught of ballot mail like his office has never seen before, “I’ll give you an example, in one day we had 1,000 requests. We’ve never had that much in one day. And so that’s significant.”

Your County Clerk must receive Mail-in or absentee ballots by 7:00 p.m. on election night, November 3.

The U.S. Post Office sent out millions of notices this month, urging Americans to request mail-in or absentee ballots at least 15 days before the election. And to get the ballot back in the mail at least seven days before November 3.

A spokesperson for the Post Office in Springfield declined a request for an interview to discuss our delivery test results. That spokesperson did send a brief statement:

“We are constantly striving to improve our service, and our employees are dedicated to serving the citizens of our state.”

This investigation’s results were based on what David and Heather found during a set number of days this month, September of 2020. There is no way to know whether delivery times will be the same, or slower, as we get closer to November.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller’s office started mailing out ballots yesterday, September 22, 2020, to voters who requested them.

Drop Locations:

  • Turners: 6480 E. Farm Road 148
  • Ozark: 1450 w. Jackson
  • Nixa: 1102 n. Massey Blvd.
  • Brookline: 2874 N. Brookline
  • Republic: 660 E. Harrison St.
  • Willard: 107 Willey St.
  • Brighton: 1584 Highway 215
  • Pleasant Hope: 120 Main St.
  • Fair Grove: 210 E. Old Mill Road
  • Strafford: 125 S. Washington
  • East Springfield: 2900 Block of East Sunshine
  • South Springfield: 3951 S. Campbell
  • North Springfield: 2953 N. National
  • West Springfield: 3434 W. Chestnut Expressway

Join us Thursday night for Part 2. Dr. Brian Calfano shows us what delivery times are like for people who may be voting absentee and mailing in their ballot from out of state.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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