USPS is up to the task

2020 mail in ballots

Montana’s post offices are more than equipped to handle the 2020 mail in ballots.

The United States Post Office manages mail, not elections. Individual state election offices will have the biggest influence on the success of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. The USPS has a standardized delivery timeframe that election offices will have to consider.

Montana’s mail-in ballots will be sent out Oct. 9 to all active voters, providing 21 days for voters to receive, complete and return their ballots. According to postal officials, Montana’s mailin ballot timeline is ample time for post offices to manage ballots correctly.

USPS sees a massive uptick in mail during the holidays. Over those several days, post offices process 800 million pieces of mail a day nationwide. The 2020 general election will see a fraction of holiday traffic in the post office. 

Montana has three major mail sorting plants, each with multiple machines that can process about 30,000 pieces of mail an hour. Post offices across the country operate at about 40% capacity. But the USPS has to have the systems in place to handle the peaks in mail.

USPS operations nationwide double to about 80% of their capacity during the holiday season.

If all roughly 330,000 eligible voters mailed in ballots for the 2020 election, it would account for three-quarters of what the USPS delivers in a normal single day. But based on voting records, about half of that population will partake in voting in the election.

Mail-in ballots are expected to increase the USPS’s volume about 2%, according to the USPS website. Mail-in ballots will be collected in four ways, through Post Offices, blue collection bins, personal mailboxes and voting drop boxes. It is custom for the USPS to review and assess volume use of every blue collection bins across the state. Dating back to the Postal Service’s beginnings, collection bins are focused in areas of high use for efficiency. Many low-use blue collection bins are removed and recycled to a place where it may be needed.

Montana’s election office has stamped each ballot with first class postage, which pushes the date for returning it through the mail as far as it can go. All ballots must be at in counties’ Clerk and Recorders possession by the end of Nov. 3.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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