If you live in the U.S., you’re probably pretty familiar with your local voting options. But did you ever wonder how American citizens living abroad cast their votes? They do it by mail, and special procedures are necessary to ensure their ballots are received on time. For example, U.S. election officials should send out international absentee ballots at least 45 days prior to a federal election. And Express Mail service is available for some international ballots.
Ensuring Americans living in other parts of the world can participate in elections is an important role for the U.S. Postal Service. So how well does it play this role? In a recent audit report, we sought to answer this question for the 2020 general election and the Georgia senate runoffs. It turns out the Postal Service did a pretty good job. We didn’t observe any material significant delays. And, USPS took actions as needed to ensure timely processing, including proper staffing, as well as culling out and expediting ballots.
While the focus of our audit was on the Postal Service’s International Service Centers — the postal facilities that handle all international mail — we identified a few factors outside these facilities’ control that may have impacted timeliness. These include delayed entry by mailers, limited international transportation, domestic network delays, and non-uniform envelopes.
Tell us what you think. Have you ever lived overseas and voted by mail? How did it work for you?