Emmanuel Tamrat

The mail center has been processing student absentee and mail in ballots in preparation for the upcoming general election.

Mail Center takes on increased workload during election season

The mail center has been processing student absentee and mail-in ballots in preparation for the upcoming general election. (Emmanuel Tamrat)

Students have anxiously checked their mailboxes over the past several weeks as the mail center, committed to helping students vote, processed an unprecedented volume of election mail.

“With all of the media reporting on the issues with the Post Office and mail-in voting, I think people are really taking the extra time to make sure that they’re doing it right,” Mail Center Supervisor Jacki Galenkamp said.

The mail center is working with MiddVotes to provide free stamps for students who need them, according to Galenkamp. However, she noticed that a growing number of states are providing prepaid return envelopes this year. Acknowledging the conflicting and unclear information that students may be encountering regarding the absentee voting process in their home state, she said that she believes students will be extra diligent when voting this year.

Claudia Vira ’23 and Kiara Vazquez ’22, both returning student workers at the Mail Center, agree that they are processing more ballots this year than in the past. “It’s a lot of putting away ballots [into mailboxes],” Vira said.

When the mail center received its first wave of ballots earlier in the election season, the volume of ballots filled up two letter trays. Many of them were Vermont ballots addressed to students who are away this semester. Because the envelopes were marked “Return Service Requested,” the mail center was unable to forward those ballots to students’ home addresses and instead had to return them to the election offices that sent them.

Despite pandemic-related changes this semester, the mail center is working as quickly as possible to deliver ballots to students.

“A lot of [ballots] are coming in without box numbers, because we had a delay in assigning [them],” Galenkamp said. “But we make sure that they’re looked up and put in boxes the day they arrive so that there’s no delay.”

In light of recent news coverage about operational changes at USPS, Galenkamp feels confident about voting by mail and is eager to see the results.

“No matter which side of the fence you’re on, it’s a very important election,” she said. “People need their voices to be heard.”