Fact Check: The U.S. Postal Service IS Telling Americans To Request Mail-In Ballots At Least 15 Days Before The Election

Hoax Alert

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: The U.S. Postal Service IS Telling Americans To Request Mail-In Ballots At Least 15 Days Before The Election Not Quite
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Did the United States Postal Service advise Americans to give their mail-in ballots 14 days round trip in order to make it in time for the election? No, that is partially misleading. A meme that has gone viral claims Americans need to send in their mail-in ballots 14 days before the election, saying they need to be received by October 20, not November 3. The United States Post Office told Lead Stories that the recommendation is to request a mail-in ballot at least 15 days before the election and to mail in ballots at least a week before election day.

The claim appeared as a meme in a post (archived here) where it was published on Facebook on July 25, 2020. It read:

Request Mail In Ballots At Least 15 Days Prior To Election Day
The Postal Service is telling Americans to give every ballot 14 days round trip. That means if you want to vote by mail, and you want to feel good about your vote being counted, Election Day is not November 3.
Election Day is Tuesday October 20.
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This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 29 05:05:57 2020 UTC)

Mail-in ballots have become a popular topic amid the coronavirus outbreak, with some voters wanting to stay away from voting in person and states varying with their response and practices about the ballots..

However, the meme is misleading because it claims that in order to have your vote counted you need to mail your ballot by Tuesday, October 20, a full two weeks before the November 3 election day.

The United States Postal Service emailed Lead Stories a statement on July 28, 2020 about their recommendations for mail-in ballots this election year and they do not exactly say every ballot needs 14 days round trip. They advise voters to request a mail-in ballot 15 days before the election and to mail ballots at least a week before the election.

Here are those recommendations:

In order to allow sufficient time for voters to receive, complete and return ballots via the mail, and to facilitate timely receipt of completed ballots by election officials, we strongly recommend that jurisdictions immediately communicate and advise voters to request ballots at the earliest point allowable but no later than 15 days prior to the election date. The Postal Service recommends that domestic, non-military voters mail their completed ballots back to the election officials at least one week prior to their state's due date.


This is the full statement from the USPS to Lead Stories:

The United States Postal Service is fully committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process when public policy makers choose to utilize us as a part of their election system, and to delivering Election Mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards. We do ask election officials and voters to be mindful of the time that it takes for us to transport, process and deliver ballots from the election mail officials to the voters, the time that it takes for voters to consider and prepare their ballots, and the time that it takes for a ballot to be transported, processed, and delivered back to the election official after it is placed by the voter back into the mail stream, based upon our usual delivery standards which have not changed.

For that reason, we recommend that customers who opt to vote through the U.S. Mail must understand their local jurisdiction's requirements for timely submission of absentee ballots, including postmarking requirements. Voters must use First-Class Mail or an expedited level of service to return their completed ballots. In order to allow sufficient time for voters to receive, complete and return ballots via the mail, and to facilitate timely receipt of completed ballots by election officials, we strongly recommend that jurisdictions immediately communicate and advise voters to request ballots at the earliest point allowable but no later than 15 days prior to the election date. The Postal Service recommends that domestic, non-military voters mail their completed ballots back to the election officials at least one week prior to their state's due date. The Postal Service also recommends that voters contact local election officials for information about deadlines.


Deadlines for turning in mail-in (absentee) ballots vary across the 50 states and territories that are eligible to vote in the presidential election.

Here is a list of the deadlines for mail-in/absentee ballots to be requested and turned in several states, according to Vote.org, a non-profit, non-partisan voting registration and get out the vote technology platform:


Alabama
Postmarked 1 day before Election Day, received by noon on Election Day.
California
Postmarked by Election Day and received within 3 days of Election Day.
Florida
Received by 7pm on Election Day.
Illinois
Postmarked by Election Day and received by 14 days after Election Day.
Iowa
Postmarked 1 day before Election Day and received by noon 6 days after Election Day.
Louisiana
Received by 4:30pm, 1 day before Election Day (most voters). Election Day (hospitalized voters).
Oklahoma
Received by 7pm on Election Day.
Utah
Postmarked 1 day before Election Day and received 6 days after Election Day.
West Virginia
Postmarked by Election Day and received by 6 days after Election Day. (Ballots with no postmark will be counted if received by 1 day after Election Day.)

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