Annie Lane: Clearing up misconceptions on ballot blunders

Published 6:29 am Saturday, October 10, 2020

Dear Annie: Recently, you published a letter in which someone recommended putting a stamp on an election ballot, even if it had already had prepaid return postage, in order to hasten its delivery. That isn’t how it works.

The bulk-mail misunderstanding may stem from some election bureaus sending the blank ballots or applications to voters via bulk mail instead of first class. But the business-reply mail already is first class. And in many states, such as here in Pennsylvania, the county elections offices are making them postage-paid through one of several options; some might physically stick stamps on them.

I’m afraid you fell for “be sure to repost and pass along” misinformation on the internet.

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— John Z.

Dear John: I deeply regret sharing any inaccurate information about postage for ballots. I appreciate your (and several other readers’) setting me straight. Note that the process may vary slightly depending on your state. The USPS has stated that while those voting in states where prepaid postage is not provided should buy their own stamps for the return envelope, USPS cannot reject votes without postage. Readers can find more information by visiting and clicking on “Election Mail.”

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Dear Annie: I had to write to ask your opinion on something that’s been irking me for years now: I know many people who only call me when they’re in the car. More and more friends are doing this; with everyone using cellphones (as opposed to home phones), you can’t tell if they are in their car when calling so you answer it. I feel I am being used to make their trip to wherever go quicker and fill in the void. Then they get to their destination and say, “Well, I am here,” and hang up. Oh, and don’t forget the commentary on other drivers or spying something different or whatever. Am I the only one who is bothered by people only calling when they are in their car?  Am I just old-fashioned and need to realize that this is the new normal?

— Call Me From Home

Dear Call Me From Home: It seems that long, leisurely calls from the sofa on a Sunday afternoon have gone the way of the landline, but we ought to revive the tradition. As tempting as it can be to catch up on calls from the road, it can leave call recipients feeling slighted, and, even more importantly, it’s dangerous. It greatly reduces our ability to recognize and react quickly to hazards while driving. These negative impacts hold true even with hands-free calls, according to a 2016 study from the University of Sussex. Researchers believe that this is because talking on the phone and driving compete for similar parts of the brain.

So, let’s be better drivers and better conversationalists. Save the long phone calls for home.

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Dear Annie: This is a microcosm of what is happening in our society today. As individuals, and as a nation, we have done reprehensible things. Many insist upon “tearing out the pages” of our past.

A Russian friend told me that they were taught nothing about the history of Russia before 1917. As you once said: “Pretending the past didn’t happen won’t erase it. However, the love and gratitude (we) feel for the people in (our lives) today is what’s important.”

— Concerned

Dear Concerned: Thank you for your thoughts about history during this political season.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to