Mail delays GW ballots

Students said they were unable to cast their vote for the 2000 election because they received their absentee ballots as much as two weeks late.

Junior Christie Kure said she received her Missouri absentee ballot 18 days after the Oct. 16 postmark, which made her unable to vote and return the ballot by the state’s Nov. 1 deadline.

I think this reflects the sluggishness of the institution and GW’s inability to keep up with the pace of student life, she said.

Kure, a Francis Scott Key Hall resident, said many other items that come through the mail, including credit card bills, often arrive two weeks after the postmark date.

GW College Democrats President Anjan Choudhury and GW College Republicans Chairman Bill Eldridge said members of their organizations reported delays receiving absentee ballots.

Something as important as voting, it’s pretty sad that Mail Services can’t get you your ballot on time, Eldridge said. This is a barrier that doesn’t need to be there.

Mail sent to students arrives either through the University’s 20052 zip code or city zip codes where the residence hall is located. Mail addressed to city zip codes gets to students faster because the mail is delivered directly to the buildings instead of going through GW Mail Services, said Liz Cannizzo, a junior who works in the New Hall office.

All mail addressed to University residence halls using the GW’s 20052 zip code goes through a four-tier delivery system before reaching students.

Mail Services, which is operated by independent contractor Pitney Bowes, picks up mail from the D.C. post office and delivers it to its office on campus. Mail Services then does a rough sort of letters, separating them by the building they are addressed to before delivering the mail to each building.

The process for letters takes 24 hours from the time Mail Services picks up mail from the post office to the time it is delivered to residence halls – a standard the organization has met consistently and with few exceptions, said Sean Wynn, director of Mail Services.

Once mail is delivered to the residence hall, student office assistants are responsible for sorting the mail by room and placing the mail into students’ mailboxes.

Mail should reach students in two to three days from the postmark, Wynn said. No mail should take more than four days to reach a student’s mailbox, he said.

I cannot tell you what performance standards (residence hall staffs) have, but we have performance standards we adhere to, Wynn said.

Having students in residence halls sort the mail could lead to some delays, Wynn said.

The residence halls – they’re not experts in mail, Wynn said.

Cannizzo said residence hall offices sometimes slow the mail delivery process.

Sometimes the office people don’t come to work, so the mail doesn’t get delivered (into student’s mailboxes) that day, Cannizzo said.

Wynn said GW’s mail system has worked smoothly in past years, but delivery could be more efficient.

At this point that’s the decision the University has made, he said. I think there are some processes that could make it better.

Wynn said the University is considering changes to the structure of the mail delivery system that would give Mail Services more responsibility in sorting mail, possibly taking some of the burden off student sorters in residence halls.

The process should be seamless, Wynn said.

Kure, whose ballot was addressed to the University’s 20052 zip code, said mail workers should have realized the importance of delivering absentee ballots on time.

I get the impression that (Mail Services workers) don’t see how urgent a letter is, she said.

Wynn said Mail Services did not give absentee ballots any special priority.

It’s just another piece of mail — we process it the same as we process anything else, he said.

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