Sue Burgess of Ridge Manor, Florida received a bit of good news during the summer. She won a “second chance” lottery in the Florida State lottery on July 29, which paid out at $1,000. Entering the second chance lottery requires participants to submit their lottery numbers and contact information, so there’s no doubt that Burgess held the winning ticket. The lottery office sent her an email, which she missed, but then called.
Burgess was ecstatic, but she still had to jump through some hoops to get her payout. She had to submit her ticket to a lottery office, but that was a problem. Due to the pandemic, the lottery offices were closed. Instead, she followed the instructions on the lottery website and sent her winning ticket to the main office in Tallahassee via mail. To make sure it got there on time, she sent it via certified mail.
She tracked the ticket entering the mail system, traveling to Tallahassee, arriving at the Tallahassee post office and then… nothing. The post office has shown the certified envelope in transit since August 12.
The deadline for submitting the ticket passed weeks ago. Per their rules, the Florida Lottery had to award the winnings to the next person in line.
For its part, the USPS said in a statement:
The Postal Service strives to always provide the best possible service to our customers. We apologize to this specific customer for any inconvenience they may have experienced.
In this specific instance, we are continuing to work with the lottery office to confirm receipt of the mailpiece.
Right. They apologize. But do they apologize for $1,000 worth?
The Florida Lottery is trying to do its part. It issued a statement that said:
“Because the Lottery did not receive Ms. Burgess’ ticket within the seven-day claim period, an alternate winner was selected and paid. However, if Ms. Burgess’ package arrives at Florida Lottery Headquarters with a date stamp prior to the original expiration date, our Claims Processing department will process and pay her claim.”
This is just one piece of mail. The post office delivers millions of pieces of mail on time every day. But it still makes you wonder if we should be dropping millions of ballots into the system. Not because of potential fraud, but because of the enormous task of getting ballots correctly sent both directions.
The story also brings up an interesting question. Would you rather have the USPS lose your ballot, or lose your winning lottery ticket?