1. What is Official Election Mail?
OEM is any mailpiece created by a voting registration official who is authorized by state law to mail to or to receive mail from a citizen of the United States for the purpose of participating in the voting process. OEM includes mail-in ballots, absentee ballots, balloting materials, voter registration cards, absentee applications, and polling place notifications.
2. Is political mail sent by candidates running for elected offices considered to be OEM?
No, OEM does not include mail sent by candidates, their campaign committees, political parties, or other organizations.
3. What is Tag 191?
Tag 191, Domestic and International Mail-In Ballots, is a new container tag that is green in color. The tag became available in November 2007 and may be used by election officials to identify trays and sacks of their ballot mail destined for either domestic or international addresses. The tag provides greater visibility to ballot mail during Postal Service handling.
4. Can Tag 191 be used with every mailpiece that displays the OEM logo?
No, the green Tag 191 may be used only to identify ballots addressed for domestic or international delivery. The tag may be used to identify “sample ballots” sent by election officials, but may not to be used to identify containers of other types of OEM, such as polling place notices, vote registration notices, or other election-related materials. Tag 191 may not be used by other organizations or individuals who are not election officials. To identify PCM, mailers may continue to use the red Tag 57, Political Campaign Mailing.
5. Is Tag 191 required to be on containers of OEM?
No. The use of Tag 191 is strongly recommended for ballots, but is not required.
6. Is Tag 191 reusable?
Yes. Once containers of OEM have been emptied, Tag 191 should be removed from the trays and sacks and retained by Postal Service employees for reuse.
7. If election officials are not supposed to use Tag 191 on their nonballot mail, such as polling place notices and voter registration forms, may they use Tag 57 to identify their mailing containers?
No, Tag 57, Political Campaign Mailing, is only to be used to identify trays and sacks of PCM pertaining to a partisan or nonpartisan election that is sent by a registered political candidate, a campaign committee, or a committee of a political party to promote political candidates, referendums, or political campaigns.
8. How does a Post Office get a supply of Tag 191?
Each Post Office can order Tag 191 from the MDC using normal ordering procedures. Post Offices should maintain a sufficient supply of Tag 191 to meet the needs of their local election officials. The Postal Service stock number for Tag 191 is PSN 7690-10-000-0667. Detailed ordering instructions appeared in Postal Bulletin 22220 (11-22-07, page 8).
9. What is the OEM logo?
The OEM logo is a registered trademark image that may only be used by election officials. The logo design features an interpretation of the stars and stripes of the American flag and the words, “Official Election Mail” and “Authorized by the U.S. Postal Service.” The design, color, and placement specifications for the logo are detailed in Publication 631, Official Election Mail Graphic Guidelines and Logos, which is available online at www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/pubs/pub631.pdf.
10. Why was the OEM logo created?
The logo was created by the Postal Service in cooperation with the Joint Election Official Liaison Committee to help federal, state, and local election officials carry out their responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
11. Who can use the OEM logo?
The OEM logo can be used on any mailpiece created by an election official who is authorized by state law and that is mailed to or from a citizen of the United States for the purpose of participating in the voting process. OEM includes balloting materials, voter registration cards, absentee applications, polling place notifications, and voter reply mail. Use of the logo must comply with the design specifications in Publication 631.
12. Are election officials required to use the OEM logo?
No, use of the logo is not required, but the Postal Service does encourage election officials to use the logo on their OEM materials. Use of the OEM logo helps recipients recognize a mailpiece as important and distinct from other political mail. The logo also serves to identify OEM to Postal Service workers and distinguish it from the thousands of other mailpieces that are processed daily.
13. Does use of the OEM logo provide upgraded service for OEM during Postal Service processing?
No, use of the logo is not intended to upgrade the level of service paid for or substitute for required postage.
14. Are there any Postal Service publications that are designed to help election officials with preparing their mail?
Yes, Publication 632, State and Local Election Mail — User’s Guide, is designed to help election officials make decisions involving the design of their mailpiece, address list cleansing, class of mail, options for reply mail, and postage. Publication 632 recommends that election officials consult with the local MDA before mailing and also includes a checklist that election officials can follow to help them achieve a successful mailing.
15. Can all absentee balloting materials be mailed free of postage?
No, only absentee balloting materials consisting of postcard applications, ballots, voting instructions, and envelopes may be sent through the mail without prepayment of postage only when sent to or by certain individuals. The privilege was established by statute and enables specified persons to apply for registration and vote by absentee ballot (in federal elections only) when absent from the place of voting residence and otherwise eligible to vote as an absentee. Only the following persons are eligible to mail without prepayment of postage:
a. Members of the Armed Forces in active service and their spouses and dependents.
b. Members of the U.S. Merchant Marine and their spouses and dependents.
c. U.S. citizens residing outside the territorial limits of the United States, the District of Columbia, and their spouses and dependents residing with or accompanying them.
All other types of ballots and balloting materials must bear postage using a permit imprint, postage meter, adhesive stamp, or other acceptable method of postage payment prior to mailing.
16. Are there mailpiece design requirements for free absentee ballots?
Yes, qualifying mailpieces must be formatted to meet the design requirements in DMM 703.8.2.
17. Why is FIM C used on free absentee ballots? Isn’t that for business reply mail (BRM)?
Free absentee ballots are neither BRM nor permit reply mail (PRM), but a unique type of reply mail and use FIM C paired with a delivery point barcode. See DMM 708.9.2.
18. Are there requirements for the deposit of mailpiece pieces prepared as free absentee ballots?
Yes, to be mailable without prepayment of postage under DMM 703.8.0, absentee balloting materials must be deposited at a U.S. Post Office, an overseas U.S. Military Post Office, or an American Embassy or American Consulate.
19. Can absentee balloting materials solely for state or local elections be mailed free?
No. The provisions in DMM 703.8.0 for mailing free absentee balloting materials only apply to ballot materials for federal elections.
20. For absentee balloting material with no or insufficient postage, should the normal procedures for shortpaid mail be followed?
No, absentee balloting materials with insufficient or missing postage are never to be detained or treated as unpaid mail, as directed by POM section 171.3. Shortpaid and unpaid absentee balloting materials must never be returned to the voter for additional postage. The materials must be delivered to election officials, and postage due must be requested from them. Employees with questions about possible abuse or impropriety should contact their supervisor.
21. The local election office asked our Post Office if it could place one of its ballot collection receptacles in our lobby. The ballots dropped into the receptacle would not have postage affixed and would not enter the mailstream. The election official would retrieve the receptacle on Election Day. May we allow the election office to place its ballot collection receptacle in our lobby as a convenience to voters?
No, Postal Service policy on the appearance of retail lobbies does not permit placement of an election office ballot collection receptacle in a Post Office lobby.
22. Is there a Web site where election officials can get information on mailing?
Yes, direct election officials to the Election Officials’ Mailing Resources site on USPS.com at www.usps.com/electionmail.
23. Where can I find the Postal Service standards for handling absentee balloting materials?
Specific standards applicable to absentee balloting materials are listed in the DMM 703.8.0.
24. Who can answer additional questions about absentee balloting materials and other OEM?
Send questions via e-mail to election-mail-manager @usps.gov.
1. What is Political Campaign Mail (PCM)?
PCM is any piece mailed for political campaign purposes in a partisan or nonpartisan election by a registered political candidate, a campaign committee, or a committee of a political party to promote political candidates, referendums, or political campaigns. A common example of PCM is a brochure promoting the candidacy of one or more registered candidates running for elected offices on the local, state, or federal level.
2. A lot of mail looks like PCM. What is an example of pieces that are not considered to be PCM?
Mail from organizations such as labor unions, religious groups, retiree associations, and others that endorse specific candidates or political issues is not PCM.
3. Is there a special designation that may appear on PCM?
Yes, political campaign mailpieces may bear an endorsement required by federal or state law that is similar to the following: “Paid for by the committee to elect John Smith and authorized by John Smith.”
4. What is Tag 57?
Tag 57, Political Campaign Mailing, is a red container tag designed to provide visibility to PCM while it’s in the mailstream. Tag 57 is only intended to be used to identify trays and sacks of PCM sent by a registered political candidate, a campaign committee, or a committee of a political party to promote political candidates, referendums, or political campaigns. It may be used for both partisan and nonpartisan elections. Tag 57 is not to be used for any other purpose.
5. Is the use of Tag 57 required on all containers of PCM?
No. The use of Tag 57 is optional, but the Postal Service does encourage mailers to use the tag to identify trays and sacks of PCM while they are in the mailstream.
6. Is Tag 57 reusable?
Yes. Once containers of PCM have been emptied, Tag 57 should be removed from the trays and sacks and retained by Postal Service employees for reuse.
7. How do Post Offices get a supply of Tag 57?
Post Offices can order Tag 57 from the MDC using normal ordering procedures. Offices should maintain a sufficient supply of Tag 57 to meet their local needs. The Postal Service stock number for Tag 57 is PSN 7690-02-000-9965.
8. Are the handling procedures for partisan and nonpartisan PCM different?
No. Nonpartisan political campaign mailings must receive the same treatment as partisan political campaign mailings.
9. Where can I find the Postal Service procedures for handling PCM?
Specific responsibilities for handling political campaign mailings are detailed in POM 492.