WASHINGTON – The United States Postal Service recommends voters utilizing mail-in ballots mail them in by tomorrow, as Tuesday is one week from Election Day.
Vote by mail deadlines vary by state, whether the deadline applies to when a ballot must be received or when it must be postmarked.
Regardless, the USPS is generally recommending voters allow one week between when they put their completed ballot in the mail, and the respective state’s deadline for receiving it.
“[O]ur general recommendation is that, as a common-sense measure, you mail your completed ballot before Election Day, and at least one week prior to your state’s deadline,” the USPS says.
Most state deadlines for mail-in ballots fall on Election Day, but again, it varies by state. In some states, like Louisiana, ballots must be received by Monday, Nov. 2.
In the context of an election, on-time delivery matters: Missed deadlines are a major reason mail-in ballots are rejected, studies have found. A record number of voters are expected to vote by mail this year, according to a Pew Research Center survey over the summer, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The crush of mail ballots also comes at a time when mail delays, legislative inquiries and court decisions have put the Postal Service in the spotlight since early summer.
The USPS and Louis DeJoy, who became postmaster general in June, became embroiled in controversy after ordering the dismantling and deactivation of mail sorting machines, overtime being barred, and carriers and trucks being required to start routes at certain times, regardless of whether the mail was ready.
A lawsuit temporarily blocked the new operational changes that were criticized as causing delayed mail delivery.
However, several swing states are seeing delays in mail, according to an USA TODAY Network and the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism project, which showed issues in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida.
Election mail is handled a little differently than most first-class mail; it gets special tags at sorting facilities, for example. The Postal Service also says extra resources are being allocated to ensure ballots are delivered on time.
Contributing: Matt Wynn, Dan Keemahill, USA TODAY; Cincinnati Enquirer