Miami Beach voter’s ballot returned to sender. How could this happen?

The Miami-Dade County elections department and USPS say it is an anomaly that a Miami Beach woman had her mail ballot from the August primary returned to her home with a "insufficient address" label despite the address being preprinted on the envelope.

DORAL, Fla. – Laura Quinlan is a passionate voter, and she said she did everything right. She mailed her ballot three weeks before the August primary from North Carolina.

It landed back at her Miami Beach home just this week, with a yellow label saying why it was returned to sender: “INSUFFICIENT ADDRESS.”

Wait, what? It’s the same preprinted envelope sent to hundreds of thousands of mail-in voters and destined for the same elections headquarters address.

“I am a very engaged voter,” Quinlan says. “I was furious that my ballot wasn’t counted.”

To track down the issue, Local 10 News first turned first to the Miami-Dade County elections department, which was shocked, saying that something like that has never happened before.

They say it was an “anomaly” and human error by a U.S. Postal Service worker.

A Miami Beach woman is confused and frustrated after the ballot she sent to vote by mail in the August primary from North Carolina just got returned to her home, saying the address was "insufficient."

“The USPS advised it was returned in error and will speak with the carrier,” the elections department said.

But how does a postal carrier mistake an envelope with the “Official Election Mail” insignia right at the top?

And how does it remain in the postal pipeline for seven weeks with not one postal employee noticing, intervening, or putting it back on course?

The U.S. Postal Service has a separate, dedicated stream for election mail. Apparently, someone put it in the wrong stream — the one that processes mail for return.

The envelope with all of Quinlan’s votes continued on that separate, wrong track.

“We gave ourselves three weeks to mail in our ballots and none of us were counted,” Quinlan says. “Here’s an example flat in my face that the post office is not working.”

The Miami-Dade elections supervisor says this has never happened in her decades of tenure, and with it being such a rarity, they hope it doesn’t discourage people from taking advantage of the opportunity to vote by mail for the upcoming general election.

But it is a confusing and troubling development, particularly with elections officials expecting record mail voting in November.

“I will absolutely deliver my ballot in person in November,” Quinlan said.

A USPS spokesperson sent Local 10 News a statement saying that they regret the error, and they want to assure everyone that vote by mail is efficient and secure.


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About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."