Secretary of State William Galvin is urging Massachusetts voters to hand-deliver their mail-in ballots at early voting sites as the Sept. 1 primary election fast approaches.
As mail delays are reported around the country after a series of cost-cutting measures implemented by President Trump’s new postmaster general, Galvin is telling those who have not yet mailed in their ballots that hand-delivering them is the best way to ensure their votes are counted.
“If you are able to do so, the best way to ensure that your ballot is counted is to deliver it in person,” Galvin said in a press release issued Friday. “Ballots can be returned to early voting sites, ballot drop boxes, and local election offices. Voters this year have more options for returning their ballots than ever before.”
Early voting for the Sept. 1 primary begins across the state on Saturday. Voters who have received ballots in the mail can return their completed ballots at their early voting sites, which can be found on the secretary of state’s website.
Additionally, voters who applied for a mail-in ballot can still decide to vote in person, as long as they have not mailed or dropped off their completed ballot.
Completed ballots must reach election offices by 8 p.m. on Sept. 1 in order to be counted. Under current law, even if ballots are postmarked by 8 p.m. Sept. 1, if they arrive after that time, they will not be counted.
Galvin’s statement comes as controversy over the delays at the Postal Service boils over. After months of railing against vote-by-mail programs, Trump last week indicated he was unwilling to agree to emergency funding for the beleaguered USPS, and linked his opposition to his stance on voting by mail.
“Those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it,” Trump said as he discussed the two buckets of funding Democrats are seeking as part of their coronavirus relief package.
Asked whether concerns about the mail delays prompted Galvin to urge voters to return ballots in person, his spokeswoman said their office always encourages voters to hand-deliver ballots as the date of the election nears, and a large number of voters are expected to vote by mail for the first time this year.
“Obviously, many voters are expressing worry about mailing their ballots, so we also wanted to make sure they know they have several options for returning them,” Deb O’Malley said. “Returning ballots to early voting locations may be more convenient in places like Boston, where early voting sites are stationed around the city, so they don’t have to come all the way to City Hall to return their ballots in person.”
People around the country have reported seeing delays in timely mail delivery, and USPS officials last month sent a letter to 46 states, including Massachusetts, warning that ballots cast by mail for the November election could arrive late even if sent before the state-imposed deadline.
The Supreme Judicial Court on Monday is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit Becky Walker Grossman, one of eight Democrats running in the Fourth Congressional District, brought last week to expand the amount of time residents can submit ballots for the Sept. 1 primary.
Grossman is asking the court to allow any ballots that are postmarked by Sept. 1 and received within 10 days after that to be counted, arguing that the current law includes “unnecessary and unjustifiable deadlines in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis” that could affect tens of thousands of voters.
Galvin has said he believes the lawsuit is "ill-advised."
“Today’s acknowledgement shows that we must do more to protect the right to vote,” Grossman said in a statement Friday on Galvin encouraging voters to hand-deliver ballots. “Our mission is simple: Every vote postmarked by September 1st should count.”