Thursday, October 23, 2008

Extra postage due on Contra Costa ballots

When you drop that ballot in the mailbox in Contra Costa County, don't forget the extra postage.

In Contra Costa, it costs 59 cents to mail your ballot.

But if you live in Alameda County or Solano County, a single, first-class 42-cent stamp will the do the trick.

Why is it different in each county?

Because each county designs its own ballots.

That process includes the selection of the card stock used for the ballot, which contributes to its weight.

Other factors include the font size used for the ballot wording, which will determine the size of the ballot.

And some counties have more ballot measures than other counties.

Neither the U.S. Post Office nor Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir are particular about what kind of stamps you put on the ballot as long as it adds up to at least 59 cents.

In fact, the postal service loves it when you stick two first-class stamps on the ballot; they make an extra quarter.

"You would be amazed at how many people place two first-class stamps on their ballot and couldn't care less about the extra postage," Weir said. "Then, again, it is amazing how many place exact postage, a 42-cent plus two eight-cent Eisenhower stamps and a one-cent kestral stamp. Then, there are those philatelists who place 10 stamps that make up 59 cents."

What happens if you don't put enough postage on your ballot?

Contra Costa County has a postage due account that will Advertisementcover the cost, so postal clerks will not return it to you.

But the ballot is marked "insufficient postage" and sent to a special pile for hand processing, which could delay the delivery of your ballot to the election office.

That brings up another voter tip: Mail those ballots no later than Oct. 31.

By law, election officials may count only the ballots that arrive at the election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Postmarks do not count.

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