Political Mail STIDs and Tracking Advice
September 29, 2020   Dave Lewis

Political Mail STIDs and Tracking Advice

So, here we are, about six weeks out from the election.  What’s the best way to track my political and election mail?  What STID should I use?  These are the worries that haunt a mailer’s heart as the end of September comes in sight.  Mailers’ hearts are different than most other hearts.

First of all, let us once again draw the distinction between political and election mail.  Election mail is official mail from election officials to voters, and back.  While there is a whole panoply of special STID choices for election mail, it turns out that these are ONLY FOR BALLOTS.  If you are mailing other official voter stuff – polling locations, voter information, sample ballots – just use the regular STIDs you use for non-election mail.  Here’s a link to the special BALLOT STIDs.  There’s no link to any other special election mail STIDs, because there aren’t any.  Capisce? 

Political mail is mail on behalf of a candidate, party, position being advocated.  It’s “vote for me” mail.  There are four (4) special STIDs for political mail.  You can read about them here.  All of the political mail STIDs accommodate IV tracking, and they do not accommodate ACS.  Huh.  So, if you are mailing a house list and want to get address correction data (and you should), these STIDs won’t work.  Don’t be blue – just use the regular non-political STIDs appropriate to the class of mail. 

Which brings us to the overarching question – what is the benefit of political mail STIDs, and do you need to worry about them?  Our OPINION is that these STIDs primarily benefit the Postal Service by allowing them to know how much political mail they are handling.  It does also allow them to “clear the floor” on the last couple of days before the election to make sure all the political mail is delivered before the election – which could benefit both the Postal Service and the mailer. 

If you are sending political mail, and don’t need ACS, you might as will use a political mail STID.  If you want ACS, you should use a regular mail STID – we don’t imagine it will have much, if any, impact on delivery performance.  Far more important than the STID you use is using Tag 57 Red Tags!   This is what human Postal employees are looking for, and the human Postal employees are our favorites.  A mailing with regular mail STIDs and red tags is likely to get better handling than a mailing with political mail STIDs but no red tag. 

Political mail?  Use red tags.  Use political mail STIDs if they make sense but don’t get worked up over it.  Track your mail.  Wash your hands!