The following is a letter Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez sent to the Pima County Board of Supervisors about the Cherrybell Post Office situation:
You recently received communication that we mailed out over 227,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Thursday July 31st. That was the first day we can legally begin mailing ballots by law.
What I wanted to express and explain is my concern regarding the ongoing plans to close the main Post Office location commonly referred to as Cherrybell Post Office in Tucson in early 2015. I have been very outspoken regarding the plans for Cherrybell when the issue was brought up a few years ago and the Pima County Recorder I will continue to be active.
This is the current procedure to mail ballots for voters in Pima County.
1. Ballots are assembled in Phoenix by our vendor Runbeck
2. Ballots are loaded onto a semi truck and transported to the Main Post Office in Tucson. We had a 9:00 a.m. appointment on Thursday July 31st.
3. Reason for mailing out of Tucson is that all of our permit numbers are associated with our PO Box in Tucson as the assigned address. In addition, our Business Reply and return service requested service is all tied to our PO Box in Tucson and most important it is a much lower postage cost to mail out of Tucson.
4. Cherrybell Post office accepts all of ballots and then loads all the ballots onto another semi-truck of their own and drives all of the ballots back up to Phoenix for processing
5. Phoenix main Post Office receives ballots and begins the mail processing in the Phoenix postal system.
6. Ballots are loaded onto truck and driven back to Tucson to Cherrybell and distributed into their service delivery to various post office sub-stations throughout the county for delivery to the voters for Pima County.
My point of view on the current procedure above. This would have been unnecessary if the had kept Cherrybell Post Office fully operational for Southern Arizona.
As you know, the Recorder’s Office pays for the postage paid return of all voted ballots via our Business Reply Address. Another one of my great concerns is the Post Office will also close this function too currently being provided at the Cherrybell Post office and will also move this to Phoenix.. All decisions are made by the Post Master General. I have no idea what the future plans on the Business Reply Service and it should be noted that the employees at Cherrybell are also kept in the dark on most matters so they are unable to give us any answers.
Business Reply Service is where they process the voted ballots that are returned in the postage paid yellow envelope that is given to each voter in their ballot packet. We currently pick up directly at the Cherrybell location for all major elections.
The 15 Recorder’s of the State of Arizona are keeping a very close watch on all the ballots being mailed as now everything must go through the Phoenix Main Post office. On Thursday, over 1 Million vote-by-mail ballots were mailed and they all must be processed in Phoenix.
The Elected Recorders are also concerned on any decisions that the Post Master General will make and how it will impact our budgets regarding postage costs. We are required by law to do several mailings per year, required to have all mailing pieces have return service request and some other requirements. Keep in mind for every piece of mail that is returned to us with any updated address information is another cost per piece.
I am not sure if you as a Board have taken any action, instructed the County Administrator or instructed the counties lobbyist to be active on the issue of the closure of the Cherrybell Post Office. If not, I would request that the Pima County Board of Supervisors become actively involved in letting our Federal Elected Officials know that we have great concerns or object to the proposed closure of Cherrybell Post Office, the economic impact to our local economy and how this will impact so many businesses trying to expand here in our community. I request that you join me in pressuring our Federal Elected officials on this matter. Time is of the essence.
I will continue to do what I can as one elected official regarding this proposed closure and the impacts of voting process. I would appreciate your comments and response on this matter.
F. Ann Rodriguez
Pima County Recorder