ARLINGTON, Wash. — You may have seen a viral video making the rounds this week where an Arlington woman vents about not being able to send an absentee ballot request at her local post office.
It has been viewed more than 4 million times, but there is more to the story.
As a military spouse, Jennifer Edwards has voted absentee for a decade with no problems - until she walked into the Arlington post office in Smokey Point.
"Being able to go to a post office as someone who moved in a military family this summer, I should be able to trust my post office," she said.
Edwards posted a TikTok video showing her after she tried to mail an absentee ballot request to her home state of Pennsylvania. The form was a single sheet with a prepaid stamp printed on it. The form also had much of Edwards' personal information. She wasn't comfortable folding up a flimsy piece of paper and putting it in the mail.
There was confusion over how to properly send it and the situation got heated.
"He said I have the right to refuse service to anybody," said Edwards. "I asked him again and he still refused. At that point, it becomes an issue because he is refusing to mail by ballot request."
A postal service spokesperson blamed the problem on improper postage and packaging, adding, "The U.S. Postal Service is fully committed between now and the November election to the secure and timely delivery of the nation's Election Mail."
But for Edwards, it's a much bigger issue. By refusing her service, Edwards believes that the postal worker was putting a barrier between her and her ballot.
"Post office employees should be familiar with all of these ballots being turned in that need to be mailed through the postal system," she said. "Training employees that are handling these sorts of things is a very big issue with the USPS right now, but they're not acknowledging that issue."
The video ultimately made its way to the desk of the man in charge of Snohomish County elections, Garth Fell. After watching it he reached out to local post offices to make sure workers know how to handle absentee requests.
"It's providing a training opportunity for them to get information out to their clerks so they're aware these forms are available to voters and they might be coming across their counters," said Fell.
For Edwards, it's about accountability. She hopes her story will help break down barriers for those trying to vote out of state.
"If they don't know how to handle it they should ask for help. And refusing a customer service should never be anything that they say," Edwards said.
Edwards did eventually get her request mailed at a different post office.
Fell, the Snohomish County Auditor, advised that if you have any questions about absentee voting don't take any chances and call the auditor or election office in the state where you're registered.
As KING 5 covers Washington state's 2022 general election on Nov. 8, our team of journalists are dedicated to sharing your stories about the voting process, uncovering any potential problems, stopping the spread of misinformation and standing for truth.
We rely on your tips to do important journalism. Fill out this form to submit a story idea about the election process, ask a question or share your own election-related experience.
If you'd like to submit a confidential tip about another topic, visit king5.com/tips for instructions.