Several Bastrop County voters have had their vote-by-mail ballots returned to sender this month due to a processing error, according to the Bastrop County Elections Department.


The United States Postal Service reported that misdirected mail pieces sent by Bastrop County residents had been processed either upside down or backwards by automated mail handling devices that caused a ballot’s return address to read as a delivery address, said Elections Administrator Kristin Miles. The error caused the filled-out ballots to be mailed back to voters instead of to the Bastrop County elections office.


The elections office was first made aware of the issue on June 11 as it began to receive phone calls from confused voters. After conversations with the local Bastrop USPS post office and USPS’ Rio Grande District political coordinator, the postal service assured Miles that the issue would be corrected and that training would be provided to employees to ensure the error would not happen again.


"Phone calls from voters slowed and we thought the problem had been corrected," Miles said in a statement issued June 25. "However, today it was brought to our attention that some voted ballots are still being returned to the voter."


Of the roughly 4,000 ballots the elections office has mailed out, the department has received phone calls from less than 50 voters who received returned ballots.


The USPS has been notified that the issue is ongoing. The Bastrop County elections office will also alter address label placement to prevent future mailing issues.


"If you are voting by mail and your ballot has been returned to you by the post office, simply place it back in the mail or contact our office for other options on returning your voted ballot," Miles said.


Voters with questions about ballots returned to sender are asked to call 512-581-7160.


This is the second ballot mishap the Bastrop County Elections Department has had this year. In February, nearly 500 voters who requested ballots by mail for the March primaries each received three ballots after a processing error by a third-party vendor.


The vendor, SeaChange, was contracted to mail and track ballots requested by mail, but several batches of mail-in ballots were delayed. During one batch of ballot mailing, 484 voters received three ballots each.