1. What is Election Mail?

Election Mail is any item mailed to or from authorized election officials that enables citizens to participate in the voting process, such as balloting materials, voter registration cards, absentee applications, and polling place notifications.

2. What is Political Mail?

Political Mail includes Political Campaign Mail and Political Message Mail, which are defined as:

n Political Campaign Mail is any material mailed at First-Class Mail or USPS Marketing Mail prices for political campaign purposes by a registered political candidate, a campaign committee (federal, state, or local), or a committee of a political party (e.g., Democratic National Committee or Republican Congressional Campaign Committee) to promote political candidates, referendums, or political campaigns.

n Political Message Mail is any material mailed at First-Class Mail or USPS Marketing Mail prices by a PAC, super-PAC, or other organization engaging in issue advocacy or voter mobilization.

Political Mail may be sent for any public election — partisan or nonpartisan — for which there is a ballot. Political Mail is identified using red Tag 57, Political Campaign Mailing.

3. What is Vote-By-Mail?

Vote-By-Mail refers to elections conducted entirely by mail. A ballot is automatically mailed to every registered voter in advance of Election Day. There are usually multiple ways and locations for voters to return marked mail ballots.

4. What is Absentee Voting?

All states will mail an absentee ballot to certain voters who request one. The voter must return the ballot by mail or in person. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states require a voter to provide an excuse, while 33 states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse.

5. What are Absentee Ballots?

An absentee ballot is a ballot used by a voter who is unable to be present at the polls on Election Day. The absentee ballot is completed and typically mailed in advance of an election.

6. How many states use mailed ballots?

According to NCSL:

n All states will mail an absentee ballot to qualified voters who request one. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse.

n Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Hawaii hold all elections by mail. Utah permits individual counties to determine if they would like to conduct all-mail election or not, and all counties are expected to do so in 2020. In California, some counties are currently permitted to conduct all-mail elections. After 2020, the option will be available to all counties in the state.

n Nineteen other states allow “certain types of elections” to be held by mail.

For more information, visit ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx and ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/all-mail-elections.aspx.

7. What is the projected number of ballots the Postal Service will deliver for this year’s elections?

According to the 2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), 42.4 million mail ballots (not including ballots sent to and from Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act voters) were sent by the Postal Service for the 2018 midterm election. Approximately 71.6 percent of these ballots were returned by voters, and the Postal Service anticipates even more ballots will be sent and returned using the mail this year.

8. In the 2018 midterm election, how many ballots were delivered to troops around the world?

The Military Postal Service Agency postmarked and dispatched 13,686 voted absentee ballots from military voters to election offices using Priority Mail Express Military Service between September 1, 2018, and December 10, 2018. The average transit time of ballots to election offices was 5.9 days. MPOs received 3,648 ballots (21 percent) that were Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) from election offices with 2,312 redirected to current addresses while 1,336 were returned to sender. The 21 percent rate of UAA ballots represents a decline of 12 percentage points from the 2014 election.

9. Is the Postal Service ready for the increased mail volume of Election Mail and Political Mail?

Yes. U.S. Mail services are an important part of the U.S. election process. The Postal Service is confident in its ability to offer dependable and timely delivery of Election Mail and Political Mail.

10. What is the Hatch Act?

The Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 7321­–7326) limits certain political activities for most executive branch employees. For example, the law prohibits employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or in the Federal workplace. The Hatch Act also prohibits executive branch employees from soliciting or receiving political contributions. Employees who violate the Hatch Act are subject to a range of disciplinary actions, including the following:

n Removal from federal service,

n Reduction in grade,

n Debarment from federal employment for a period not to exceed 5 years, and

n Suspension, reprimand, or a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.

11. How does the Hatch Act affect the Postal Service and its employees?

The Postal Service is non-political, which means the organization cannot and does not support any political party or affiliation over another. The continued effectiveness of this organization depends on delivering all political mailings without giving the perception that the views of one candidate, political party, or political viewpoint are endorsed over another.

It is the responsibility of all Postal Service employees to know and obey Hatch Act restrictions. This means that employees may not display political buttons while on Postal Service property or place bumper stickers on a Postal Service vehicle that indicate a preference for a specific candidate, party, or political position. Employees are also urged not to participate in any political discussions where customers are present.

This brief summary does not address all of the Hatch Act prohibitions. For more information about the Hatch Act:

n Visit the Ethics page on Blue at blue.usps.gov/uspslaw/Ethics.htm,

n Contact the HQ Ethics helpline at 202-268-6346, or

n Send an email message to “Ethics Help” (internal email) or ethics.help@usps.gov.

12. Do the return ballots need to be postmarked by a certain date?

That varies on a state-by-state basis. Some states will accept a postmarked ballot after Election Day in certain circumstances. Other states require a valid postmark for the ballot to be counted. Visit your state’s election website for specific information.

13. Do the return ballots need to be postmarked even if there is a meter?

Yes. Return ballots are postmarked in every state to ensure that marked ballots are postmarked for states that require it. Visit your state’s election website for more specific information.