All things considered, the U.S. Postal Service performed well in processing and delivering election and political mail during the 2018 midterm elections. But there are areas that could be improved for the general election in 2020.

In response to a request by the Postmaster General, we reviewed the Postal Service’s performance during the 2018 midterms, and found USPS fell just shy of its nationwide service performance goal for First-Class Mail of 96 percent on time for election and political mail, hitting 95.6 percent on time. However, we also determined that 70 percent of Postal Service facilities with election and political mail volume greater than 2 million pieces met or exceeded the service performance goal, averaging 98.3 percent on-time performance.

Election mail is a mailpiece created by an authorized election official for voters participating in the election process, such as a ballot, while political mail is used for political campaign purposes. Election mail is processed as First-Class Mail (FCM), and political mail as Marketing Mail. However, we found that facilities typically process political mail as FCM, and so we compared it to the FCM service standard.

We found low-performing sites could employ the best practices of the highest-performing facilities. For example, management should assign enough mail processing staff to process peak election and political mail volume. In addition, plant management should work with mailers and election officials on proper mailpiece design.

Elections add stress to postal operations, especially general elections. Do you see other ways the Postal Service could improve election and political mail to ensure smooth operations during the 2020 general election? Do you anticipate greater volume in fall 2020 than in past election seasons?

Comments (4)

  • anon

    God bless our United States Post Office. Prayers for all and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families! Respectfully yours; -Ainsley Erin Schultz

    Nov 25, 2019
  • anon

    There needs to be both training and accountability with regards to a route's edit book. Additionally, edit books for auxiliary routes which have no regular carrier and are mostly serviced by CCAs do not get updated because of a lack of training. The most I have been told when I asked was that the edit books have instructions in the front. However, if one looks at the amount of hours per week that the average CCA works, there is no time to train oneself on a crucial aspect of postal efficiency, nor is there much in the way of clear direction. Is this an office task or should it be on street time? It makes sense to be clocked as office time, but we are constantly told that upper management wants to limit office time. Given all of the stresses for time, it doesn't appear as if our direct supervisors have much ability to explain the esoteric tasks of mail carrying to the upper management, so there is no time granted for performing these time-saving updates. What this means is that addresses that have been vacant for quite a while will receive election and political mail. In one particular instance, the vacant address is a university dormitory that is being remodeled and will occasionally get hundreds of pieces of undeliverable mail - students almost never leave forwarding addresses and if it is presorted standard without the 'electronic service requested' option, it goes in UBBM and gets recycled (hopefully). This is hugely wasteful and unethical given that these campaigns are squeezing every dollar to reach voters. Another point: assuming it is even an option in one's edit book, there has to be an easier way for carriers to update residents as having moved, or as having a good forwarding address, or as having no forwarding address, etc. On certain routes where residents change frequently, there are days where at least 75% of all mail is undeliverable. This is a systemic issue that goes beyond election and political mail, but it directly affects the question posed by the OIG. It is the sheer inefficiency of our infrastructure to alter data that the mailstream is based upon that is the primary cause for most problems related to election and political mail. In general, it is related to the issue of artificially inflated mail volumes based on an inability of carriers to understand or make changes to their edit books, directly caused by lack of initiative and rational directives by postal executives.

    Nov 24, 2019
  • anon

    My mother did not receive her ballot in the mail before the elections. It is unacceptable for even a single vote to go uncounted because of a delay in the mail delivery. I continue to read complaints all over the internet regarding poor delivery by USPS - mail not being delivered, delivered to wrong addresses, extreme delay in delivery - and I have personally experienced all of these issues. Something needs to be done to get these delivery issues resolved - in this instance, it could have cost an election with the races being so close.

    Nov 19, 2019
  • anon

    The words election and political does not fit the title first class nor fcm,these definitions are way beyond mailing.words can define performances but action create results. election and political are not mail categories.

    Nov 18, 2019

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