Is mailing ballots through the "United States Post Office" more reliable than through the United States Postal Service? Is the "United States Post Office" the country's "de jure postal service," while the United States Postal Service is a "federal corporation"? No, that's not true, and for one simple reason: No legal entity officially called the "United States Post Office" handles the U.S. mail. The term is a colloquial synonym for the United States Postal Service (USPS), which has been the official name of the national U.S. mail service since 1970. It is not a corporation.
The claim about the "United States Post Office" appeared in an Instagram post on October 28, 2022. The caption said:
UNITED STATES POST OFFICE REGISTERED MAIL
This is probably why you've been getting cheated for so long.
Here is what the post looked like at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri Oct 28 16:54:10 2022 UTC)
The video's narrator, an unidentified man, immediately states that "I don't give a ... I don't care about voting." Yet, he offers his "advice" on preventing what is described in the in-built title as "MAIL IN VOTER FRAUD":
... if you use the United States Postal Service certified mail or just regular mail, they can do anything they want with those ballots. It's a corporation. It's a de facto corporation. They can take a box of those ballots, they can take a crate of those ballots, they can take a million ballots that are sitting in the back and leave them there. They could set 'em on fire. They could throw 'em in the dumpster, they could call a shred service.
While the USPS does not rely on taxpayer money or government funding, it is not a privately owned enterprise but an independent establishment of the executive branch. The agency's website explains that its leadership structure, "similar to that of a private corporation," was introduced in 1970 to ensure that it's "free of direct political control."
By law, the USPS is an independent federal agency, led by a postmaster general appointed by the governors of the Postal Service.
No federal law exists that authorizes the USPS to "call a shred service" or throw ballots "in the dumpster" at will. As the Justice Department repeated on October 26, 2022, ballot destruction is a federal crime. While there have been past allegations of USPS employees inappropriately handling ballots (for instance, here, here and here), those cases were investigated and prosecuted.
But the overall share of such incidents remains very small: In the 2021 election cycle, the USPS delivered 99.95 percent of voter ballots to election officials within seven days; 99.31 percent arrived within three days.
The USPS states that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service works with "other federal, state, and local law enforcement and government agencies" to provide for the security of mailed-in ballots. Instructions are online for users to track missing mail.
In the past, the spread of false statements regarding mail-in voting has been qualified as voter intimidation, a prosecutable election offense.
The man who discusses mail-in voting on Instagram clearly aims to promote his social media content. For example, he encourages viewers to subscribe to his podcast, where he talks "about stuff like this all the time." The podcast page, in turn, asks people to donate to its creator via the Cash app.
Additional Lead Stories fact checks about the 2022 midterm elections can be found here.