Absentee vote got returned to sender

An absentee ballot got kicked back to a Merrimack voter because it was addressed to an expired post office box for the town.

Jeanne Pratt of Gail Road had requested an absentee ballot on behalf of a family member, she said Tuesday. The completed ballot was sent back in an envelope preaddressed to Town Hall.

However, last week, the ballot returned to Pratt’s mailbox, she said, with a “return to sender” mark from the post office.

Pratt went to Town Hall on Monday and discovered that the preprinted address on the envelope was for a post office box no longer used by the town.

Pratt contacted The Telegraph wondering how many other ballots may have been returned without voters knowing it.

Town Clerk Diane Trippett said Pratt’s case is the only one she knows of, and that she was “pretty sure it’s an isolated case.”

It’s likely a leftover envelope with the expired box number was accidentally distributed, Trippett said, even though she thought she tossed all the outdated envelopes long ago.

“We’re still receiving hundreds and hundreds of ballots back,” Trippett said.

Her staff is handling more absentee ballot requests this year than ever, or at least since she started tracking the numbers in 2002.

That year, her office sent out 456 ballots; in 2004, 1,002; in 2006, 278. This year, 1,179 absentee ballots had been distributed as of Thursday, and more could be given out before the end of Monday’s deadline.

Absentee voters can return ballots until the end of voting on Tuesday, Election Day.