Why you shouldn’t use FedEx or UPS to send in your ballot
FedEx and UPS won’t rescue voters who are nervous about the US Postal Service failing to deliver their mail-in ballots in time to be counted.
The Postal Service recently warned state election officials that ballot delivery could be significantly delayed because of the record number of mail-in ballots expected during the pandemic. But America’s two major private delivery companies say they’re unwilling to step in and handle the flood of mail-in ballots — and they advised voters against using their services for ballot delivery.
Sending mail-in ballots with FedEx or UPS would be way too expensive, and many ballots sent by private delivery won’t be counted. It’s also too close to the election to change the way ballots move from election offices to voters and back, voting experts say.
“I don’t know if it’s more reasonable to ask FedEx and UPS to pick up the slack this close to the election any more than it is to have Santa Claus deliver them,” said David Becker, founder and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, a non-partisan think tank working to improve election administration.
Election officials depend on the Postal Service for the ballots as well as the applications for mail-in ballots, sample ballots. The Postal Service also delivers information about early voting, polling places locations and hours.
“The way election officials communicate with voters is with mail,” Becker said.
All that election-related mail is typically sent at a reduced rate, similar to the bulk rate of about 19 cents. Although election mail has been handled as if it’s first-class mail, recent communication between the Postal Service and election offices suggested that wouldn’t continue, he said.
Regardless, FedEx and UPS would cost far more per ballot. More importantly, it’s unclear whether ballots delivered by an outside carrier would be accepted by all the county election officials in charge of counting votes.
“Each state is responsible for their own rules regarding mail-in ballots and the requirements for validity vary greatly from state to state,” said UPS in a statement. “We’d suggest speaking with state authorities who set the rules to see if they will accept a ballot if delivered by a private express carrier.”
FedEx also said it doesn’t want to handle individual ballots.
“US election absentee and mail-in ballots are predominantly handled by the US Postal Service. FedEx does accept individual ballots for shipment,” it said. “We advise that customers planning to return their ballots via FedEx should closely review their state’s guidelines on absentee voting and deadlines for ballots or related election documents.”
Becker said it’s not surprising that those companies don’t want to be involved in the debate over mail-in ballots.
“Why would they want to take on the potential public perception liability being involved in a presidential election?” he said.
Becker noted the Postal Service has been handling mail-in ballots for more than 200 years and it handled about 25% of votes in 2016. And he said the volume of mail ballots won’t be greater than the volume of mail that typically takes place during the holiday period.
He said the best thing for voters nervous about the Postal Service to do is to either deliver their ballots to secure drop-off locations or election offices or to mail their ballots as soon as possible to give the Postal Service time to get them delivered on time.
“The earlier they get their ballot in, the better chances they are to be counted,” he said.