Why are we mailing our letters so close to Election Day?

Data informs all of Vote Forward's work, including setting mail dates. We know that "please vote" letters that arrive as close as possible to Election Day have the greatest impact on turning out voters. We also know that letters mailed too late won’t arrive in time to have the desired impact. 

To set the mail date for The Big Send 2022, we reviewed average and outlier first-class mail delivery times for letters sent between different states since October 1, 2021, when the postal service changed its three-day delivery standard for first-class mail—like Vote Forward letters—to delivery anywhere within the U.S. within five days. We also consulted with our United States Postal Service (USPS) political mail advisor and analyzed when voters who choose to opt-out receive their Vote Forward letters. 

USPS
According to current USPS service standards for first-class letters, letters sent across the US arrive within five business days, with some letters arriving in one day.* Organizations tracking first-class letter delivery times have found that three to five days is the average delivery time, even with impressive delivery times in December 2021 and some inconsistency in January 2022. When we floated two potential mail dates to our USPS political mail advisor, she expressed confidence both in the three-to-five day delivery window for first-class mail and in our plan to mail our “please vote” letters on Saturday, October 29, 2022 to arrive close to but before Tuesday, November 8, 2022. 

Voter Data
When voters receive a Vote Forward letter, they have the option of opting out of future mailings. They do this by visiting Vote Forward’s website and entering the unique code that was in the fine print on their letter. For information on when letters arrive, we examined the dates when voters opt out on the website. 

Based on our analysis, opt-outs for letters mailed after the USPS service standard change on October 1 were highest two to four business days after letters mailed, with 72% of opt-outs occurring within six business days (one week) of the mail date. This indicator gives us confidence and supports our understanding that most Vote Forward letters arrive within the three-to-five day average delivery window for first-class mail.   

We establish mail dates at the start because it’s a requirement when using the Vote Forward platform to set up a new campaign. We can of course make an adjustment if it becomes necessary based on slowing first-class mail delivery times or other factors and if we later find that making a change is critical to the success of our efforts. 

In 2022, our focus is on sending "please vote" letters timed to encourage voters to turn out on Election Day because our analyses show that, to date, these are the most effective letters that Vote Forward volunteers send. And with so many campaigns available this year, offering one type of letter with a single mail date allows us to concentrate our efforts. Some voters will make a plan to vote early in person or by mail, and for them a "please vote" letter will serve as a reminder to return their marked ballot and as a resource for more information on voting in their area.

*We recognize that some parts of the country have experienced or may still be experiencing mail delays. If you reside in one of these areas, please share your concerns with your U.S. representative if you haven’t already done this.