MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Absentee ballots are taking longer than normal to reach some North Dakotans.

Even though election mail is considered first-class mail, some ballots are arriving outside of that one-to-three-day window.

The Ward County auditor’s office has already sent out more than 2,500 absentee ballots, but the area’s mail problems continue. At this point, the office is urging residents to either early vote or physically drop off absentee ballots at the Ward County Administration Building.

“This late in the game, we are kind of trying to stop mailing ballots,” says Ward County auditor and treasurer Marisa Haman, “because we don’t think there is any way they are going to be able to mail them back.”

The process to receive an absentee ballot is lengthy. Residents must first fill out an application, after which officials will verify it in their system in order to create a legitimate ballot, then mail it again. This completed ballot must also be mailed back.

With election day just six days away, the best ways to make sure a vote counts are to in-person vote or drop off absentee ballots. And that’s exactly what residents are doing.

Two early voters, Barb, and Marv Semrau said, “We understand from people who have already voted here that it’s fast, and quick and easy so it’s kind of nice to be able to do that. Very efficient.”

Sheryll Paulson, who absentee voted said, “Dropping it off I think is definitely a better idea. We feel they have a better chance of actually getting here. Our mail is actually kind of messed up right now in Minot. So, that is an issue. So, I think mostly we just want to make sure they get where they are supposed to be.”

The mail issues in Ward County continue to be a problem even for other important documents, Haman says.

“We actually ran into some issues when we sent out our estimated tax notices,” she continues, because their dates for public hearings were on those, and by the time people were receiving them, the hearings were already happening. But I also got some mail last week that was postmarked April of 2018.”

The Postal Service reports that it has processed 122M absentee ballots nationwide, and 2% are arriving at least three days late. KX News has reached out to USPS for an interview and they’ve declined.

Absentee ballots in Ward County must be dropped off into the official ballot drop box outside of the Ward County Administration building by November 7th, at 5 o’clock.