HARTFORD, CT —Election regulators on Wednesday referred their investigation of 234 absentee ballots that arrived at Enfield Town Hall two weeks after the Aug. 11 primary to the Inspector General for the United States Postal Service.
“It appears to be a matter which is more appropriate within the hands of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General,” State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi said Wednesday.
SEEC Attorney Kevin Ahern, who conducted the investigation, said the issue leads right up to the doorstep of the USPS, “specifically the Enfield station.” He said they didn’t find any issues with election officials in Enfield.
Election regulators determined that a substantial portion of the absentee ballots that were received after the Aug. 11 primary “appear to have been mishandled by the United States Postal Service and specifically the Enfield station. While nothing we have seen thus far indicated any intentional/fraudulent activity, the extensive time periods between the signature dates, the timestamps, and the receipt of many of these ballot sets suggest a breakdown somewhere within the delivery process at the Enfield Post Office,” the SEEC report states.
The report was issued Thursday by the SEEC at its meeting.
Investigation by the SEEC found that 209 of the 234 late absentee ballots were sent by a mail house and 25 were sent by the Town Clerk.
Of the 209 ballots sent through the mail house, 192 were signed by voters between Aug. 1 and Aug. 11, 157 were signed between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7, and 35 were signed between Aug. 8 and Aug. 11. There were five undated.
Most of the late ballots only had an Enfield postmark. Of those, about 127 were postmarked between Aug. 21 and Aug. 27, long after the primary.
Election regulators mapped the ballots to determine whether the late ballots involved one mail route, but they found addresses were scattered throughout the town.
“This map indicates that there is no statistically significant specific geographic concentration that might suggest an issue with a particular mailbox and/or mail route. The addresses are spread evenly throughout the municipality,” the SEEC wrote in its report.
A spokeswoman for the USPS was contacted after business hours and did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Amy Gibbs, a USPS spokesperson, has said that they are investigating the matter.
“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,” Gibbs has said.
State election officials say it’s a reminder that voters should use the ballot boxes outside of Town Halls to return their absentee ballots whenever possible, rather than using the postal service.