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Political vs. Election Mail: What’s the Difference?

September 04, 2018

With election season around the corner, BCC Software’s Customer Support is busier than ever helping our customers answer questions on the ins-and-outs of mailing political materials.

One of the most common questions is, “what’s the difference between Political and Election mail?” On the surface they sound similar, but there are distinct differences that can have a major effect on how the mail piece is processed. Most notably, there are restrictions on what material and when each mail piece can be sent. Not following these rules could tie up a mailing if it is flagged as the wrong type of mail.

Election Mail is the more confusing of the two terms. In most cases where we find the wrong type of mail has been selected, it’s because Election Mail was not correctly selected. Election Mail is mail specifically for information on the election process – it is not for individual campaign information or information about a political candidate. Contrary to the name, it may not even be about a specific election. The content of the mail piece must be of concern to the addressee in terms of voting information – including where, how, and when the recipient can vote. Additionally it must come from authorized election officials. Examples include voter registration, polling location information, absentee ballots and applications, and other such materials. Any information concerning a specific election candidate, opinion, or leaning is expressly forbidden for Election Mail.

Political Mail on the other hand covers mail from a specific candidate, political party, or committee. This can range from endorsements or information on a specific candidate to pushes for certain initiatives and registration information for a political party. In general, these mailings cover most political mail you will see this season. Because of the nature of both kinds of mailings, most candidates and parties send much more mail than the authorized election officials who send Election Mail will do.

Qualifying for and correctly identifying your mailing as Election or Political Mail comes with a number of benefits. These benefits do not include a monetary incentive, but you do get access to specific Election Mail and Political Mail tags (tag 19 and tag 57 respectively). These mark your mail as a high priority, affording all kinds of expediencies and advantages for handling requirements, all designed to make sure your mail arrives in a timely fashion. Any issues with the mailing are handled quickly and efficiently.

For example, tag 57 for Political Mail requires that any late deposit, delay, or undeliverable issue be reported immediately. The processing must be expedited and if it can’t be, a report must be generated. Similarly, mail deemed undeliverable must be reported to the campaign office before it can be disposed of, forwarded, or returned.

Election season is a busy time for mailers as campaign information and voting information inundates consumers. Understanding the difference before marking a mailing can go a long way to ensuring the mailing receives these benefits in a timely manner. Now, you should be ready to tackle Election and Political mailings, and ready your customers for the busy election season ahead. If you want to learn more about these types of mailing, please reach out to Customer Support with any questions at 1-800-624-5234 or tech@bccsoftware.com

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