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, 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, 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.