Section I. Determining the Appropriate Class of Mail to Use

The class of mail you use to send your pieces depends on the following:

The main classes of mail you will want to consider are First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail. Completed ballots mailed by voters are First-Class Mail, regardless of whether they are prepaid by election officials or mailed with a stamp affixed by the voter. The only situation where completed domestic, non-military ballots are not First-Class Mail is where the voter opts instead to pay for a premium service like Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.

As for blank ballots and other Election Mail mailed to voters, the Postal Service continues to recommend that election officials use First-Class Mail. Using First-Class Mail allows for faster service while maintaining high visibility as the ballot moves through the mailstream [when used with USPS visibility tools, like serialized Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb)]. Nevertheless, the Postal Service has long engaged in several practices to prioritize ballots that are entered as Marketing Mail, regardless of the paid class, when capacity permits and when the mailpieces are identifiable as ballots by the Official Election Mail logo or other Postal Service indicia.

The Postal Service will continue to process and deliver ballots expeditiously, as we have done in past elections, with the result being that ballots commonly receive delivery timeframes similar to First-Class Mail even when they are mailed as Marketing Mail.

The following table summarizes the important features of each.

 

Class of Mail

Speed of Service*

Free Forwarding and Return

Secure Destruction

Extra Services

Presort Discounts

Single Piece

IMb

First-Class Mail

2–5 days

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

USPS Marketing Mail

3–10 days

No

No

Only for Parcels

Yes

No

Yes

Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail

3–10 days

No

No

Only for Parcels

Yes

No

Yes

*Actual delivery times may vary depending on mail entry origin and destination.