Stickers that read “I Voted By Mail” sit on a table waiting to be stuffed into envelopes by election workers in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4, 2020 (AFP / Logan Cyrus)

Adding a stamp will not expedite US mail-in ballots with pre-paid postage

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Social media posts claim that adding a stamp to a “postage paid ballot” will result in it being handled as first-class mail instead of the slower bulk. But the US Postal Service says pre-paid envelopes for ballots are already first class, so adding stamps is not necessary and will have no impact.

“Adding a stamp to your postage paid ballot will force USPS to handle it as first class instead of bulk. Pass the word,” says a September 12, 2020 Facebook post.

A screenshot of a Facebook post taken on September 16, 2020

The claim has also circulated on Facebook here, here and here, on Instagram here, and on Twitter here, here and here.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has been accused of seeking to undermine the Postal Service in a bid to aid his reelection, raising fears that ballots sent by mail might not arrive in time.

Mail-in ballots are expected to be used in unprecedented numbers in 2020 because they are considered safer than in-person voting during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But a Postal Service spokesperson said adding a stamp will not result in a ballot moving faster.

“If postage on a returning ballot envelope is pre-paid by election officials it is First-Class Mail, so adding postage to the envelope is unnecessary and will not enhance service,” Martha Johnson told AFP by email.

“If postage is not pre-paid by election officials, voters should ensure that the appropriate postage is affixed to their return ballot envelope. Postal Service regulations require states to tell voters how much postage is necessary to return the ballot, and if the voters affix such postage their ballot will receive First-Class Mail service,” Johnson said.

Trump has repeatedly assailed the credibility of mail-in voting, claiming it will lead to mass ballot tampering. But AFP Fact Check has previously written about the risk of mail-in voter fraud and found it to be miniscule.

Information on absentee and early voting in the United States can be found here.

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US Elections 2020