Election Mail, Inside USPS

Secure and Timely

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Executive Director, Election and Government Mail Services Adrienne Marshall

Secure and Timely

The Postal Service is fully committed to its role in the electoral process.

With a successful primary season behind us and the 2022 general election just weeks away, the United States Postal Service is once again ready and able to support our country’s democratic process. As part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, the Postal Service has a very clear and defined role in the election process, and that is to process, transport, and deliver the nation’s election mail, including ballots.

Mail-in ballots, in some form, have been around for almost 160 years, but they rose in prominence in the 1980s when changes to state laws provided more opportunities for the U.S. public to use the mail system to participate in elections.

This form of voting has proved increasingly popular with election officials and voters. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission[1], the number of mail-in voters nearly doubled between 2004 and 2016.

This trend was expected to continue gradually, but that changed with COVID-19. Overnight, the 2020 general election landscape was reshaped, and demand for mail-in ballots surged. USPS ultimately delivered at least 135 million ballots to or from voters that election cycle[2], an unprecedented volume in a year of record voter turnout.

This additional volume may seem monumental, but the Postal Service handles more than 430 million pieces of mail daily, so we always had the capacity to accommodate the growth of mail-in ballots in 2020. Experience had also prepared us, and longstanding practices and proven procedures we typically employ during election season were, as always, robust and effective.

With that in mind, I want to point out that from the Postmaster General down, everyone at USPS is proud of our performance in the 2020 elections, when we delivered ballots from voters to election officials in an average of 1.6 days. We improved on those numbers again in 2021, with ballots from voters delivered to election officials in just 1.4 days on average.

Building off the successes and lessons learned from 2020 and 2021, the Postal Service created a permanent Election & Government Mail Services team. As I noted in a recent episode of the Postal Service’s Mailin’ It podcast, USPS now has permanent, full-time dedicated staff trained to monitor and resolve election mail issues in real-time and continually educate our employees on policies and procedures for properly handling mail-in ballots. This team also allows us to continue our engagement with local, state, and national election officials to provide them with the tools necessary to use the mail as a secure, efficient, and effective way to facilitate the election process.

Additionally, as in past elections, we will implement and deploy a variety of extraordinary measures that extend beyond our normal operating procedures to accelerate ballot delivery and ensure ballots mailed on or shortly before election day by election officials and voters are delivered on time, wherever possible.

Mail-in ballots are now more common in our country’s election process.  The Postal Service has a proud history of being a non-political organization, and we do not see it as our role to advocate for or against the use of Election Mail for voting.  If election officials choose to include the mail as part of their electoral process, or if voters decide to use our services to vote, then we will do everything we can to make sure that the mail is effective for that purpose.

All of us at USPS want to reassure voters who vote by mail that their ballot is safe and secure with the United States Postal Service.


Adrienne Marshall

Executive Director, Election and Government Mail Services


[1] EAVS Deep Dive: Early, Absentee and Mail Voting
[2] The total number of delivered ballots may greatly exceed 135 million. This figure includes only those ballots that were properly identified as ballots using the correct electronic identifiers, and does not include many of the ballots that the Postal Service diverted from its processing network or otherwise handled outside of normal processes in an effort to accelerate delivery.