The Election Mail Act would support the delivery and processing of election mail and make sure voters do not have to pay to return ballots
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, introduced legislation to improve the delivery and processing of election mail. The Election Mail Act would direct the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to carry all election mail at a First-Class service standard and at a non-profit mail rate, postmark all ballots for federal elections, improve the processing of election mail, help ensure ballots mailed on or just before Election Day are counted, and and ensure voters and election officials do not bear the cost of returning mail ballots.
“Millions of Americans use mail-in voting because it is a simple, accessible way to make their voices heard. That’s why it’s critical that election mail is delivered and processed in a timely manner and no voter has to pay for postage to cast a ballot,” said Klobuchar. “By improving the processing and delivery of election mail, this legislation will make it easier for Americans to participate in our democracy.”
The Election Mail Act would:
- Codify First-Class service standards for all election mail;
- Ensure voters and election officials do not have to pay to return mail-in ballots. Voters in many states have to pay for return postage on ballots, and this legislation would ensure there is no direct cost to voting and that local election officials don’t bear the cost of prepaying for postage. Currently, ballots of all overseas and military voters are returned this way with Congress reimbursing USPS, and under the legislation USPS would similarly be reimbursed for returning domestic mail-in ballots;
- Prevent USPS from making operational changes within 120 days of an election that would restrict the prompt and reliable delivery of election mail;
- Require states to count absentee ballots that are postmarked by election day and arrive within 7 day after the election, while permitting states to have deadlines more than 7 days following the election;
- Require USPS to postmark all ballots and election officials and USPS to use special tags that help to identify ballots in mail processing facilities to ensure timely delivery; and
- Require states and jurisdictions to use Intelligent Mail barcodes that allow voters to track their ballots; and
- Require USPS to consult annually with Native American tribes on postal issues that affect voting on tribal lands.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, Klobuchar has long led efforts to make voting more accessible. Earlier this month, she led nine colleagues in introducing legislation to make voting easier for all Americans by requiring states to register eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18 and implement automatic voter registration through motor vehicle agencies.
In May, she and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced legislation with nine Democratic colleagues to provide federal resources to support states in administering elections and improve voting access in underserved communities.
In March, Klobuchar successfully urged the Biden administration to prioritize funding for postage-free ballot delivery and election security in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal.
Last fall, Klobuchar introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which would set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in, including by improving voting access, expanding early-in person voting and voting by mail, and modernizing election systems. All Senate Democrats cosponsored this legislation and voted to advance the bill in January.
In October 2020, Klobuchar and Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Tom Carper (D-DE) urged the Trump administration to protect the right to vote by mail for Americans living overseas.
In August 2020, Klobuchar led the entire Senate Democratic caucus in urging USPS to fix delays and avoid cost increases for election mail.