The Price of Mailing Ballots to Voters

Today, the New York Times has a report on how states pay the USPS to mail ballots to voters.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said the Postal Service under the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major donor to the Trump campaigns, had “informed some states that they may need to pay a first-class rate to deliver ballots rather than the normal rate — nearly tripling the cost.”

A New Clash over Mail Voting: The Cost of Postage

Important note: As a voter, know that regardless of how you get your ballot delivered to you, you’ll be returning it to your local voting authority with First Class mail. The debate is over how states get the ballot to you in the first place. There are two ways states have been distributing ballots to voters:

  • First Class mail — This is the same mail service that delivers consumer letters you mail every day. It’s the same service you get by paying the price of a stamp and attaching it to a letter. It usually takes 3 to 5 days.
  • Marketing mail — This service is meant for bulk mailing and most “junk mail” and the USPS defines this to include “printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs and small parcels.” It’s cheaper, but it can take up to 10 days to reach its destination.

Because marketing material is a lower-priority than other mail mail, USPS officials have been recommending that states use the more expensive First Class postage option. That way, they’ll get ballots to voters promptly and reliably. For some states, the more expensive First Class option is too expensive.