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Preparing Election Season Mailings with BCC Software

As discussed in the June 2020 PostCom bulletin, election mail is expected to see a real increase in the coming months. In fact, according to Daniel Bentley, USPS® Election Mail Program Manager, “absentee balloting will easily double in 2020 [as] many states are scrambling to prepare for the new realities of the COVID-19 crisis in an election year.” In an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, many states have increased vote-by-mail initiatives while also reducing physical polling places, and 5 states currently have mail-only elections. 

With this in mind, BCC Software wants to ensure you have the tools to effectively handle the increase in political and election mailings. Below is a thorough list of instructions for each of our products and how to properly prepare these types of mailings.


BCC Bulk Mailer®

To set up Political or Election mail in Bulk Mailer, use the Mail Sort wizard:

  • Navigate to the Sorting Preparation page
  • Under Advanced Document Settings Options, select Political Mail or Election Mail
  • On the Intelligent Mail® Settings page, select the Full-Service Intelligent Mail setting, Address Change Service Type, and IMb Tracing settings as appropriate for your mailing

When the sort is complete, the first page of both the Mail Sort Summary report and the Postage Statement indicate that the mailing is Political Mail or Election Mail. If you use Mail.dat®, the Mail.dat files include the correct CCR and CPT. If you use Mail.XML, it will reflect these settings for a mailing after a sort is completed.

For more information, see https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03388


BCC Architect

To set up Political or Election mail in BCC Architect, use the PRESORT Agent Wizard:

  • Navigate to the Sorting Preparation page
  • Under Advanced Document Settings Options, select Political Mail or Election Mail
  • On the Intelligent Mail Settings page, select the Full-Service Intelligent Mail setting, Address Change Service Type, and IMb Tracing settings as appropriate for your mailing

When the sort is complete, the first page of both the Mail Sort Summary and the Postage Statement indicate that the mailing is Political Mail or Election Mail. The Mail.dat files include the correct CCR and CPT values.

For automated sorts that use a presort template via the BCC Architect API, prior to running the sort, edit and update the template using the Presort Wizard to reflect the appropriate Election or Political Mail settings. You can set the Mail_Content property of an automated presort to indicate Political or Election mail.

This property is documented here:  https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03430 or in BCC Architect Developer Guide.


Track N Trace®

New IMb Political Mail Service Type IDs (STIDs) for Letters & Flats are effective as of July 27th, 2020 with USPS and will be available in BCC products around June 12th, 2020. These unique STIDs will be added to Informed Visibility Mail Tracking and Reporting, which is utilized by Track N Trace. Ballot Mail STIDs remain the same, which were effective as of 8/20/2018.

How the new STIDs impact you:

  • For customers accessing TNT® through BCC Mail Manager®, Just select the correct service(s) in the TNT Wizard. Full BCC Mail Manager instructions are listed later in the document.
  • For BCC Bulk Mailer and BCC Architect customers, the new STIDs will be available for selection with the July release version of those products.
  • For customers uploading their mailings directly to Track N Trace, please contact support at (800)-624-5234to add the following STIDs to your data feed:
  • First-Class Mail® Political Mail:
    • Basic or Non-automation with IV MTR: 727
    • Full-Service with IV MTR: 747
    • USPS Marketing Mail Political Mail
      • Basic or Non-automation with IV MTR: 728
      • Full-Service with IV MTR: 748

For more information regarding the new Political Mail STIDs, please visit: https://postalpro.usps.com/IMb_PoliticalMail_SvcTypeIDs_July2020

For more information regarding all other STIDs, including Ballot Mail STIDs, please visit: https://postalpro.usps.com/node/6411


BCC Post-Presort

To add the correct CCR values for Political and Election Mail to the selected job in the MAILdb™ main window, do the following:

  • Navigate to the MPU/Component editor via the Job Menu>Editing functions
  • Select your desired components to add the value by Right-clicking and choosing “Add/Remove CPT Characteristics”
  • “Add” the correct value (Election Mail – C or Political Mail – C) and confirm the dialogs

For more information regarding Election Mail in Post-Presort, please visit: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03164&p=2

For more information regarding Political Mail in Post-Presort, please visit: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03170&p=0


BCC Presort

Presort Views: In the desired version description block (or default block to update for all unspecified versions), select the Mail.dat option and enter either “CPM” (for political mail) or “CEM” (for election mail) into the CCR Component Characteristic Values and confirm the dialog. Ensure the Component Characteristics File is set to be created in the IDEA Mail.dat report block.

Jobfile: In the desired version description block (or default block to update for all unspecified versions), enter either “CPM” (for political mail) or “CEM” (for election mail) into the IDEA CCR Component Characteristic Values parameter. Ensure the Create CCR File is set to “Y” in the IDEA Mail.dat report block.

For more information regarding Election and Political Mail in Presort, please visit: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-02025&p=0


BCC Mail Manager Full Service™, BCC Mail Manager, BCC Mail Manager LE™

  • To setup Political or Election mail for your mailing without TNT
    • When placing the IMB on your label, select either Political or Ballot Mail and the required Destination or Origin IMB Tracing from the list of available services along with any other services you are requesting – such as Full Service
    • When setting up your Mail.dat IMB, select the same services you selected in Label Designer from the services list to make sure the Mail.dat output matches the mailing label output
    • When setting up your Mail.XML IMB, select the same services you selected in Label Designer from the services list to make sure Mail.xml matches the mailing label output
  • To setup Political or Election mail with TNT
    • When placing the IMB on your mailing label, select “Use Track N Trace Intelligent Mail Barcode Information”
      • Note:  Select the correct Service from the “IMB Tracing Service” box located directly under the TNT checkbox
    • When going through the TNT Wizard, select the correct services for your tracking job
      • Note:  Some selections for Destination IMB Tracing with Ballot or Political mail can only be selected in the TNT wizard
    • When Setting up your Mail.dat IMB, make sure you have gone through the TNT Wizard already, and then select “Use Track N Trace Intelligent Mail Barcode Information” to produce a correct mail.dat
    • When Setting up your Mail.dat XML, make sure you have gone through the TNT Wizard already, and then select “Use Track N Trace Intelligent Mail Barcode Information” to produce a correct Mail.XML job

How to select the correct “content of mail” for Political / Election Mailings in the Mail Manager family: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03438


How to view IMB properties to make sure correct STID is selected when marking back records: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03443


How to view IMB Properties when using eSubmission or mail.dat: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03446


How to view IMB Properties in the Mail Manager Label Designer: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03445


How to setup a Political or Election Mailing using Mail Manager with Track N Trace, please visit: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03442


How to mark back Track N Trace barcodes to a Mail Manager list: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03447


How to use Track N Trace barcodes in the Mail Manger Label Designer: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03448


How to use Track N Trace Barcodes in Mail Manager’s eSubmission or Mail.dat tool: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03449


What Services are needed to select the proper Election/Ballot Mail STIDS: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03444


Integratec® API Summary

In Integratec API Platform, you need to modify your JSON calls for both the IMB as well as the eDoc creation to use PLM as a service for political mail, or BLT for outgoing ballot mail.  Remember, these services are only available when combined with a tracking service STID (DCM in the example below)

Adding the services as shown in the example below will allow you to select the Political (PLM) or Ballot Mail (BLT) when creating a mailing.

This example is a MODIFYPRESORTED that includes Full Service, Political Mail, and Destination IMB Tracing

{
  “addressTable” : “XXXXXXXXXXXX”,
  “presortName” : “Test_Political”,
  “streamList” : “ALL;ALL ALL”,
  “fields” : {
    “imbDigits” : {
      “mailerID” : “000944”,
      “service” : [
        “FLS”,
        “DCM”,
        “PLM”
      ],
      “confirmLocation” : “ALL”
    }
  }
}

Please contact Customer Support for more information on how to modify your jobs to claim the correct services, or check out the Knowledge Base article located here: https://portal.bccsoftware.com/Support/knowledgeBaseContents.aspx?id=KA-03434