Section 13.121 of the Texas Election Code requires that official voter registration applications be mailed in a business reply postcard form, with postage paid by the state. The Code also requires this office to obtain a Business Reply Mail (BRM) permit, which is renewed annually, from the US Postal Service for the use of the postage-paid application form and arrange for payments of the postal charges with warrants issued by the Comptroller of Public Accounts. The United States Postal Service works to identify and process Official Election Mail in an efficient and timely manner. All mail is processed based upon the service standards for the class of mail selected at the time of mailing.
Business Reply Permit No. 4511 Renewal
Before the end of each calendar year, the Secretary of State renews Business Reply Mail No. 4511 permit with the United States Postal Service. As the BRM permit holder (SOS) can allow its authorized representatives or agents to use that permit number to receive BRM at any post office. The original permit holder must supply the representative with a letter authorizing the use of the BRM permit and a copy of the USPS receipt showing the annual fee payment for that permit.
Counties are authorized to use the 4511 permit number to receive voter registration applications at the county’s local post office as required by Section 13.121 of the Texas Election Code. A county must deliver a copy of the 4511 permit to the local county US Postmaster and correspondence from the Office of the Secretary of State authorizing its use before December 31, 2013. Here is a copy of the Authorization Memo.
Regular Postage Due Account Method (Basic Business Reply Mail)
Counties receiving a smaller volume of voter registration mail per year (less than 900 according to the US Postal Service) are to use the regular postage due account method. Voter registration postage funds are sent to the county’s voter registrar upon request, payable to the county’s postmaster.
Business Reply Trust Account/Accounting Fee Method (High Volume Business Reply Mail)
To qualify for a business reply trust account, a county must receive a larger volume of voter registration mail per year (900 or more). Voter registration postage funds are sent upon request to the county voter registrar, payable to the county’s postmaster.
When a business reply trust account is authorized by the Secretary of State, an annual accounting fee is required by the post office. The Secretary of State will disburse a warrant payable to the postmaster of the county seat (mailed to the voter registrar) in the amount of $635.00. This accounting fee is not to be credited to the postage account and does not defray the postage costs charged for handling and processing each application received by mail.
Each year, the Secretary of State’s Office estimates the “high volume” counties by running a report for the previous like year (e.g. if it’s an odd-numbered year, the report is run based on the most recent complete odd-numbered year). The counties that are estimated to have a high volume of voter registration applications based on that report are issued the accounting fee check of $635.00. The 2014 high volume counties are based on 2012 statistics: 2012 Voter Registration Application Report.
Voter Registration Electronic Submission
When funds are needed for the voter registration postage account, a voter registration postage report is completed via the Chapter 19 Online Expense System. Once approved, a warrant made payable to the county’s local postmaster is mailed to the voter registrar in 2-3 working days.
U.S. Postal Service Contacts
Who should an Election Official contact for advice or to resolve conflicts with local postal representatives related to mail preparation, mail piece design, eligibility and rule interpretation?
Besides the local postmaster, election officials are encouraged to contact the nearest USPS Election Mail Contacts for advice concerning mail preparation, mail piece design, eligibility, and general guidance concerning classification matters. In cases where an election official disagrees with a classification decision by a local post office or other postal official, the decision may be appealed, in writing, within 30 days of the decision to the Pricing and Classification Service Center (PCSC) in New York. The PCSC will provide the final decisions regarding proposed mailings. The PCSC is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time (7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST).
Pricing and Classification Service Center
United States Postal Service
90 Church Street, Suite 3100
New York, NY 10007-2951