BACKGROUND:

The U.S. Postal Service plays a vital role in the American democratic process by ensuring that voters receive political campaign materials and official election mail, such as absentee ballots and registration information in a timely manner. Given the Postal Service’s financial condition and its limited influence over states’ use of the vote-bymail process, it directs its efforts toward increasing political campaign mail revenue.

To increase the sale of political campaign mail, the Postal Service implemented a specialized sales team during the 2012 general election cycle. The Postal Service generated $508 million of political mail revenue during the 2012 general election. This was an increase of 123 percent over the 2008 general election, and a 50 percent increase over the 2010 general election.

Our objective was to evaluate opportunities for the Postal Service to enhance and increase political and election mail revenue.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

Additional opportunities exist for the Postal Service to increase political mail revenue. The Postal Service has limited ability to influence state and local election officials in adopting a 100- percent vote-by-mail process. However, nonballot election mail, such as absentee request forms, may provide opportunities for increased sales of about $1.2 million and revenue in the next general election by addressing citizen groups that are eligible to vote but not yet registered.

In addition, the Postal Service could further explore providing Internet voting to enhance its ability to serve the public and moving into the digital communication market. The Postal Service is working on requirements for a platform to facilitate digital authentication. This may provide an opportunity for the Postal Service to expand its digital offerings and set the stage for Internet voting, which could better position the Postal Service’s relevance and brand in the future and may impact future revenue.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:

We recommended the Postal Service develop a strategy to increase the sale of nonballot election mail products to citizen groups who are eligible to vote but not registered. We also recommended the Postal Service continue to explore secure digital credentialing and its potential for Internet voting.