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Tech Notes

Prepare Political and Election Mailings

USPS Red Tag 57     Green Tag 191 for Ballot Mail

Political mail season is a great opportunity to generate revenue when you mail for political candidates. Don't be intimidated by what you don't yet understand. Preparing political mailings is not much different than the typical direct mail campaigns you process, but there are steps to take to get the mail pieces into mailboxes quicker and for low postage rates that could keep your political mailing client providing you with plenty of direct mail and print business in the future.

The Differences between Political Mail and Election Mail

Political Mail is any material mailed at First-Class Mail® or USPS Marketing Mail® prices for political campaign purposes by a political candidate, federal, state, or local campaign committee, or political party to promote political candidates, referendums, or political campaigns or for engaging in issue advocacy or voter mobilization.

Official Election Mail is any item mailed to and from authorized elections officials that enables citizens to vote. Examples of Official Election Mail include

  • ballot materials
  • voter registration cards
  • absentee ballot applications
  • polling place notifications


Step 1: Presort Mail

  • Look for the Incentives section In the lower-right corner of the Presort Setup window.

AccuZIP6 Presort Incentives section

  • Choose Content from the pull-down menu.
  • Click on the Browse button (to the left of N/A).
  • Select Political Mail, then click OK.

AccuZIP6 Presort Content and Incentives

  • Click on the Intelligent Mail Setup link

Intelligent Mail Setup Link

Intelligent Mail Setup Service Types for Political and Election Mail

  • Select a mailing date, then click Presort.

Step 2: Political Mailing Notice

Notify USPS of your mailing to help the USPS plan in advance by completing the Political Mailing Notice. The USPS recommends submitting the form at least 2 days in advance of the mail’s arrival at a facility. A USPS® Political Mail Strategist will also receive confirmation of the notice.

You'll upload two items within this notice:

  1. Upload a copy of your mailpiece so the USPS can prepare for your mailing. If you do not have a copy of your mailpiece, please continue to the next question.
    Acceptable file formats: .pdf, .bmp, .jpg, .png, .gif files under 5 MB. The total size of uploads cannot exceed 5 MB.
  2. Upload a copy of your Postage Statement 3600 or 3602 Form so the USPS can prepare for your mailing. 
    Acceptable file formats: .pdf, .bmp, .jpg, .png, .gif files under 5 MB. The total size of uploads cannot exceed 5 MB.

Step 3: Obtain Red Tag 57 for Political Mail or Green Tag 191 for Ballot Mail

USPS Red Tag 57   Green Tag 191 for Ballot Mail

Obtain Tag 57 from your BMEU. You'll need one tag for each tray (or sack) as these tags are affixed to every container in your mailing. If you're using pallets, you'll need four tags for each pallet.

Affix Tag 57 to the front end of each tray, the strap of the label holder of each sack, or to the top 4 corners of each pallet of your mailing.

The Postal Service recommends that mailers use the red PS Tag 57, Political Campaign Mailing, to identify trays and sacks that contain PCM. Although the use of the tag is optional, when used, it provides greater visibility to containers of PCM as they move through Postal Service processing and distribution operations.
Tag 57 is only intended for use on containers (trays and sacks) of First-Class Mail and Standard Mail items entered by a registered political candidate, campaign committee, or committee of a political party and in connection with a partisan or nonpartisan election. Tag 57 may not be used to identify mailings made by other types of organizations, even if promoting or endorsing political candidates, refer¬endums, and other political activities.

The Postal Service wants employees to remember the differences between Political Mail and Election Mail tags during this year’s election season.

  • Red Tag 57, for Political Mail, should be used for any political campaign mailing by a registered candidate, campaign committee, and committee of a political party. This tag also can be used for message mailings by a political action committee (PAC), a super PAC, or other organizations engaging in issue advocacy or voter mobilization.
  • Green Tag 191 should only be used to identify ballot mail addressed for domestic or international delivery.

Step 4: Affix Red Tag 57 (Political Mail) or Green Tag 191 (Ballot Mail) to your mail containers

  • Strapped Letter Trays: Attach Tag 57 using a wire twist tie to the strap at the end of the tray that bears the tray label.
  • Nonstrapped Letter Trays: For trays permitted to be tendered without strapping, attach Tag 57 to the tray with a rubber band that is double-looped through the tray handhold at the end that bears the tray label
  • Sacks With Flat-Size Mail: Depending on the type of sack, attach Tag 57 to either the strap or label holder on the sack
  • Pallets: Attach to the top 4 corners of each pallet of your mailing

Each Post Office and mail acceptance unit should maintain a sufficient supply of Tag 57 for their local political campaign mailers.

Summary of steps

  1. Prepare your mailing as usual in AccuZIP6, but choose Content and Political Mail in the Incentives section of the Presort Setup window, and choose an appropriate Political or Election Mail STID in the Intelligent Mail Setup section
  2. At least two days before dropping your mail, provide the USPS with a PDF or image of your mail piece and mailing statement through their online Political Mailing Notice form
  3. From the post office where your permit is held, get enough Red Tag 57 or Green Tag 191 tags (one for each tray or sack; four for each pallet) for affixing to your mail containers
  4. After traying/sacking/palletizing your mail, affix the Red or Gren Tags in the appropriate places on the container before you take the mail to your BMEU

Direct mail can be a powerful channel to maximize your outreach to the electorate. And just like with any channel, when done right it can effectively drive voter action to the polls.

Political and Election Mail Additional Resources

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