The U.S. Postal Inspection Service works tirelessly to ensure public trust in the mail. The unique status of political and election mail make its security a top priority during every election cycle. Whether a customer is sending campaign mailings, ballot materials, voter registration cards, or absentee ballot applications, the Postal Inspection Service monitors political and election mail as it moves through the postal network to prevent, identify and resolve any issues that might interfere with its secure and timely delivery.
ELECTION MAIL SECURITY
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service takes a whole-of-government approach to ensure the public’s confidence in the U.S Mail during election season by partnering with other federal, state, and local law enforcement and government agencies. Daily coordination happens between the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and these agencies so each agency has timely information, and all agencies’ resources, tools and techniques can be applied to ensure the integrity of America’s elections.
Inspection Service employees regularly review internal practices within USPS to quickly identify and address any potential issues with election mail. Postal Inspectors have unique access to USPS facilities and regularly conduct security reviews in processing plants, business mail entry units, delivery units and post offices. While in postal facilities, Inspectors review the physical security of both the workplace and the mail. Inspectors also provide USPS managers and employees with guidance and recommendations to ensure election-related mail is properly processed and delivered.
Despite years of experience securing the Nation’s mail, the Inspection Service continually seeks opportunities to increase effectiveness and adapt to changing environments. Beginning months before the November 2020 elections, the Inspection Service began updating best practices for ensuring the integrity of election mail amidst the unique challenges of 2020, planning for responses to potential election mail security issues, and sharing important mail security information with election community stakeholders nationwide. The Inspection Service also uses technology to better utilize Postal Service systems to monitor the mail and deploys other resources throughout the country to help expand the agency’s connection to the postal network.
The U.S. Postal Service is considered critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and contributes directly to the Election Infrastructure Subsector. Postal Inspectors, working alongside the USPS Corporate Information Security Office (CISO), provide protection to the USPS network and the usps.com website by monitoring threats and responding to cyber incidents. The Inspection Service’s cybercrime unit is prepared to defend against potential attempts by foreign actors to infiltrate the postal network.
The Inspection Service is also experienced in protecting the U.S. Mail and the Postal Service during natural and manmade disasters and from external threats of violence, such as civil unrest and terrorism. Fully trained and equipped Inspectors serve as first responders to help USPS secure the mail, USPS infrastructure and restore service to affected communities.
The Inspection Service has 17 field divisions across the country, with local offices in every state and most U.S. Territories. All Inspection Service field divisions have designated and trained personnel who coordinate election mail security within their division.
Utilizing our resources within the international mail processing network, Postal Inspectors work with the Department of State and Department of Defense to ensure the secure delivery and return of election mail for U.S. military and civilian voters abroad.
As the Nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a storied history of securing the U.S. Mail during election periods throughout American history.
War of 1812
During War of 1812, there were only three Post Office Special Agents assigned to mail security for the entire nation.
By 1864, Post Office Special Agents supervised the transportation and delivery of mail to Union troops during the Civil War. With thousands of men deployed far from home, most of the states in the Union granted absentee voting for its military service members for the 1864 presidential race between incumbent Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democratic candidate George McClellan. During the Civil War, David B. Parker supervised the transportation and delivery of mail to Union troops. Parker, who became a Special Agent and later Chief Inspector, re-established mail service as southern states returned to the Union.
World War II
During World War II, 247 Inspectors serving in the military services organized a mail system for the troops — the Army Post Offices, called APOs, and the Fleet Post Offices or FPOs. The system was so effective that what they established still remains as today’s military mail system.
TIPS FOR SECURING ELECTION MAIL
Don’t let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox
You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox every day.
Don’t leave your mail unattended for extended periods
Have your Post Office hold your mail while you’re away. Make arrangements online at www.usps.com.
Many states have online tracking tools to help track the status of your ballot
If you believe there’s an issue with the receipt or delivery of your ballot, contact your local election office to verify the status of your ballot prior to contacting USPS.
Place outgoing mail in your residential mailbox
For collection by your carrier, mail it at the Post Office or deposit it in a blue USPS Collection Box.
If you see something, say something
If you see a mail thief at work or someone suspicious lurking near a mailbox, call the police immediately, then report it to Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (say “Theft”).
WHAT IF YOU NEED TO REPORT ANOTHER CRIMINAL ISSUE WITH YOUR ELECTION MAIL?
For election mail issues requiring law enforcement attention, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s National Law Enforcement Control Center at 877-876-2455 (say “Law Enforcement”). You can also report election mail crimes involving the U.S. Mail using the link below.REPORT