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'Our number one priority': Spokane postmaster assures voters their ballots will be handled properly

The acting postmaster, alongside the Spokane County Elections chief, detailed protocols being taken to keep ballots safe and counted on Wednesday.

SPOKANE, Wash — Two local leaders directly responsible for handling the 2020 election held a press conference on Wednesday morning to provide updates on how ballots are being kept secure and quickly processed.

The Acting Spokane Postmaster Jon Boone and Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton provided details on protocol, as well as guidance to voters who might be anxious to make sure their vote is counted.

“We all believe that handling the election mail properly and timely is what we need to be doing every day. It’s our number one priority," Boone said.

When it comes to voting by mail, the steps Washingtonians should take are the same as ever. Just put your ballot in the mail the way you would any other envelope, except you don’t need postage.

“This particular insignia is used all the way across the US to indicate that it is elections mail," said Dalton, pointing at an envelope. "So with this insignia the post office knows that this is official elections mail, and it is getting priority handling across the nation.”

However, if you wait until Election Day itself to mail your ballot, you will need to take some extra precautions.

RELATED: Here's what happens to your ballot after it arrives at the elections office

Ballots must be postmarked by that day, Nov. 3, meaning a postal worker has to pick it up. That does not mean it needs to actually arrive at the elections center by Election Day.

Make sure if you put your envelope in a normal at-home mailbox that you do so before your carrier’s last pickup. If you use a blue box, again be sure you get it in before the last pickup listed on the box or you can take it into a post office before it closes.

“If you take it to a post office… all our post offices are open until 5… if you [give it to] a clerk, they will postmark it right in front of you," Boone said.

Some extra steps are being taken by USPS this year to assure a smooth election.

For instance, the printer that postmarks ballots has been specially prepared.

“They’ve made sure that the machines were all cleaned and ready to go so that these postmarks are absolutely clear and human-readable," said Dalton.

In addition, USPS will pick up from every blue box every day, including Sundays.

Dalton and Boone expect massive turnout this year but say they and their staffs are prepared to handle the load.

Still, as Election Day draws nearer, more voters are opting for the white county drop boxes over the mail for that extra piece of mind that their ballot will be received in time and counted.

“The way it always goes is that at the beginning of the cycle, most of them come back to us through the mail, and then there’s a tipping point where the drop boxes start to take over," said Dalton. "We’ve hit that tipping point, so now the ballots are more likely to come to us through a white drop box.”

Nonetheless, leaders say as long as you follow the proper procedures, the mail is a completely reliable method of voting.

The KREM Voter Access Team is working to get you the information and dates you need for the 2020 Election. Click here to view the KREM Voter's Guide. Text the word 'Vote' to 509-448-2000 for important deadlines and information, or text 'Ballot' for links on how to check the status of your ballot in Washington and Idaho.

RELATED: Spokane County Auditor clarifies number of rejected ballots

RELATED: VERIFY: Is it OK to return my ballot already? How often are drop boxes emptied?