Mail and the election are fraught with problems

 In Business

Let me start with my bona fides: I am the CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications, an integrated marketing company. My previous position was Director of Processing for the exclusive mailing shop providing services to a major securities brokerage house and as such I was responsible for the processing and mailing of 50 million shareholder communications annually.

In 1992 Lorraine Gregory was formed to purchase a small mailing company. The company provided printing and mailing services to a steady repeat cadre of clients in various industries. Many of the clients were and are banks, hospitals, colleges and nonprofit organizations. Today my print and mail shop works with a list of over 700 clients with annual mail production between 50 and 70 million pieces of mail per year.

With over 30 plus years’ experience providing mailing services, I know the inner workings of the United States Postal Service: the good, the bad and the ugly. On the commercial side I know quite a bit about how direct mail is done.

So, what does this have to do with the Presidential election of 2020. I will try to be brief yet informative.

First, mailing lists are notoriously inaccurate. Granted, they have improved of the last two decades as computer technology has advanced, but there is still a lot to be desired. In fact, the mailing list industry, the supplier of private mailing data will only guarantee a 93% delivery accuracy for consumers at residential addresses, which translates to a possible 70 wrong names and addresses for every 1,000.

List hygiene starts with a process known as the National Change of Address (NCOA) to remove bad addresses. Yet, it will only identify people moves that have been registered with the Post Office and then only look back four years. It helps but is not absolute. Taking this a bit further, the database of deceased individuals is in the millions. Yet again that is not absolute either. Board of Election lists are poor at best; many are outdated and have not been cleansed on a regular basis. Neither party is anxious to remove voters’ names under any circumstance. Therefore, the list accuracy should always be considered suspect.

The USPS itself faces issues associated with personnel, equipment, transportation and so on. Despite many short comings, they do yeoman’s work in delivering billions of pieces of mail and packages every day. However, they are not infallible. It is not the Post Office that is the obstacle in this case but the data and outbound mailing that warrants scrutiny.

The argument presented today is wayward ballots arriving in the wrong or inappropriate hands can therefore open the door to fraud and invalid votes. It could not be simpler than that.

Absentee ballots that are requested by voters have been in use for decades and are reliable because they are one request, one returned ballot. Mailing to every occupant of voting age is first, wasteful because no election ever receives 100% of the eligible voters voting. Second, without a well-established plan to handle the logistics of mail voting, which admittedly several states have and have fared very well, the potential chaos and delay are real.

Reports of ballots being discarded, dumped in garbage cans and otherwise not handled properly are rampant, and early voting has just begun. This mailer sees the warning signs of challenged ballots, ballots never received by voters, multiple ballots sent to nonexistent voters that are filled out and returned.

Merlin the magician will be needed to cast his wand to achieve a believable result.

The author, Greg Demetriou is the CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications, the founder of GregsCornerOffice.com and the host of the Ask A CEO video and podcast show. He can be reached at greg@lgcli.com.

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