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Mail cutback raises absentee ballot fears

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SIOUX CITY | Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill said he fears a change by the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday delivery could impact people trying to vote in busy general elections.

Gill said the more voters are opting to vote by absentee ballots, which come pouring in the final weekend before Election Day.

"It will be a big concern for us, because right before the elections, especially the Saturday before, we are still processing those and we want to make sure that we get them checked in and processed in order to count. That Saturday is one of the biggest days that we get," Gill said.

Additionally, his office typically mails out the last of the absentee ballots on the Friday afternoon before the election. Those are now typically received on Saturday by many city residents, he said.

But under the new delivery schedule those requested ballots won't land until Monday, the day before the election.

"That will have an impact too," Gill said. "If those aren't going to make it to people's doorsteps until Monday, that is going to make it very difficult for them to get them in to us."

Since the Sioux City mail processing center closed in 2011, mail goes through a Sioux Falls facility, then comes back to the city to be separated for delivery. Gill said the loss of Saturday service could be salved if election workers could access the accumulated absentee ballots at the post office on Saturday, even if they couldn't be delivered.

"They must still be planning on bringing that truck down," he said.

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