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 ballots, balloting materials, voter registration cards, absentee ballot applications, and polling place notifications.

2. What is Political Mail?

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

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. How many ballots were sent through the mail for the 2020 general election?

According to the 2020 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), states reported transmitting a total of 90.7 million mailed ballots to voters (not including ballots sent to and from UOCAVA voters) for the November 2020 general election. Approximately 77.8 percent of these ballots were returned by voters.

4. In the 2020 general election, how many ballots were voted by troops around the world?

The Military Postal Service Agency postmarked and dispatched 59,862 voted absentee ballots from military voters to election offices using Priority Mail Express Military Service with Label 11-DoD between September 1, 2020, and January 7, 2021 (the end of the runoff election). The average transit time of ballots to election offices was 6 business days. Of the ballots received by APOs and FPOs, 4.5 percent were Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) from election offices, and were either redirected to the voter’s current address or returned to sender.

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

Yes. The Postal Service is confident in its ability to offer dependable and timely delivery of Election Mail and Political Mail.

6. 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.

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

7. 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.

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

Ballot acceptance rules vary on a state-by-state basis. Some states will accept a ballot that is delivered after Election Day if it has been mailed by Election Day (or some other specified date) in certain circumstances. Other states specifically require such ballots to have a valid postmark for the ballot to be counted. Other states focus on the date by which the ballot is received (typically by Election Day) rather than when it is mailed. Visit your state’s election website for specific information.

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

In recognition of the importance that the election laws in some states place on postmarks, it has been the long-standing policy of the Postal Service to try to ensure that every return ballot mailed by voters receives a postmark, whether the return ballot is pre-paid by election officials or mailed with a stamp affixed by the voter. We instruct our employees throughout the country about our ballot postmarking processes and procedures, and review standard operating procedures for ballot postmarking. Consistent with our policy, ballots are postmarked in every state, which helps to ensure that return ballots are postmarked for states that require it.