It’s the year of cancellations, but in a democracy, elections must go on. Voters are flocking to the post offices and mail slots to turn in their vote-by-mail ballots, and many are wondering how we will feel confident that our votes are counted, as the USPS has been facing budget cuts and the threat of all-out extinction and November looms near.
A comprehensive election user’s guide can be found at about.usps.com/publications/pub632.pdf, and all resources and FAQs can be found at about.usps.com/what/government-services/election-mail.
Additionally, the USPS has an independent inspection service (information found at uspis.gov) “responsible for ensuring the safety of all mail, including election mail,” which has a direct hotline at (877) 876-2455 to report law enforcement matters relating to election mail.
Here’s what the USPS has to say about ballot security and assurance of receipt for the upcoming election:
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3. The American public can rely on the United States Postal Service to fulfill our role in the electoral process. We provide a secure, efficient and effective way for citizens to participate when policymakers decide to use mail as part of their elections.
We have a robust and tested process for proper handling and timely delivery of election mail. Due to COVID-19, there’s been an increase in the number of jurisdictions expanding mail-in voting options. Our national education effort keeps local and state election officials informed about mailing procedures and our operational standards. We’re also educating the public about how to successfully use the mail, if they choose to do so.
If you are a nonmilitary voter located in the United States and you choose to use the mail to return your completed ballot, our general recommendation is that, as a common-sense measure, you mail your completed ballot before Election Day, and at least one week prior to your state’s deadline. Some states may recommend allowing even more time for mailing completed ballots. In addition, some states require mail-in ballots to be received by the election office by a specified deadline, while other states require mail-in ballots to be postmarked by a specific date and received within a certain number of days later. You should always check to make sure you understand your state’s requirements and recommendations on mailing your completed ballot. You can look for information about your state’s requirements and recommendations here: Find your state election website at usa.gov/election-office.
The postal service recognizes that election mail, and ballots in particular, are time-sensitive. We are committed to the expeditious processing and delivery of election mail, particularly ballots. However, to minimize the risk that a ballot will not arrive before your state’s deadline, we recommend that, as a best practice, voters act early if they plan to use the mail to return their completed ballot.
We work closely with election officials at all levels of government to provide recommendations on mailpiece design, mailing preparation and entry, and delivery timing.
~ USPS Election Mail Hub