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Mail-In Voting: Documentation Of Mail Between Voters And Election Boards

By: Peter Wade
Tel: (305) 420-5907
Email Mr. Wade

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USPS technology affords every customer the ability to document the date that mail addressed to them is available for delivery. The Postal Service takes an image of each standard sized piece of letter mail that will be delivered to every address in the United States every day.

While it is the addressee’s (voter or election board) choice whether they pick up their mail on the day that it is available to them; and it is a matter of internal processes of the addressee whether all mail is processed and acted upon on the same day that the USPS has made the mail available, time limits for requesting, receiving, and sending mail-in ballots have a definite, indisputable record available to both the sender and the recipient.

This information is accessible to subscribers only, it takes less than two minutes to subscribe. Individual households can subscribe at (https://informeddelivery.usps.com) and organizational entities, e.g., businesses,  and government offices – such as local boards of elections -  can subscribe at (https://www.usps.com/business/pdf/informed-delivery-overview.pdf)

While the USPS only maintains this data for 21 days, the end subscriber (household or organization) can download this information daily and reformat it to accommodate responses to any queries.

Some of the challenges to election mail errors which can be resolved through the USPS Informed Delivery data are:

Receipt of voter registration mail-in ballot requests

Addressees can be provided with a digital photo of the outside front of the envelope of each piece of letter mail they have received. So, the County Board of Elections can search their database of mail received from the prospective voter and provide documentation as to whether their request was: a) mailed after the election cut-off time b) never mailed, c) lost in the mail, or d) lost after arriving at the board of elections office.

Receipt of Mail-in Ballots from County Board of Elections

USPS Informed Delivery provides a digital photo of each mail-in ballot sent to a voter. The service also provides information as to the exact date that the mail-in ballot was sent to the voter.

Receipt of Mail-in Ballots at County Board of Elections

Obviously, ballots mailed to the Board of Elections on November 3 will not be received at the board of elections on November 3. The cut-off date for receipt of ballots is not an issue for the USPS to determine.

What USPS Informed Delivery data can establish is the exact date that mail-in ballots were available for delivery by the USPS.  Therefore, if ballots were received at the board of elections in compliance with instructions but not counted by the end of the cut-off date, it would not be the fault of the voter or the USPS.


Peter Wade, was employed by the USPS for 32 years. He served in supervisory and administrative positions with the U S Postal Inspection Service in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan. He was also the Postmaster of San Juan PR and Field Division General Manager for the USPS Caribbean District responsible for providing postal services to 4 million customers and supervising 3000 USPS employees.

Mr. Wade has been a consultant and expert witness in postal related matters for 19 years. He has advised on numerous postal matters, including the merging of two independent postal services in Argentina. He has offered efficiency improvement and security advice to many business clients of the USPS. He has provided testimony in both civil and criminal proceedings in postal related litigation.

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