Paper Matters Blog
Ballot Envelope Design Best Practices

The Association for Print Technologies recently hosted a webinar titled “Best Practices for Vote-By-Mail Envelope Package Designs”.  It’s a timely topic given the demand for mail-in voting options will increase significantly this election season.  Whitney Quesenbery, Director of Center for Civic Design, presented what her organization has developed to make lives easier for all people involved in the mail-in election process.  The information that she shared might be helpful if you are responsible for the design of election mail or a converter who will produce the envelopes for this purpose.

The initial idea was formed when Whitney worked with California’s election director to develop a basic design for the 2016 election.  The design proved a success as converters, mail houses and the postal service all gave the design high marks. In California, the design options are a county decision. More counties are adopting the design for the 2020 election.  Other states that are implementing the template include Virginia, Michigan and Rhode Island.

Here’s a brief overview of the benefits of the design:

Ballet Envelope Design

A blue outer wrap on the envelope that contains the ballot mailed to the voter makes the piece easily identifiable in the mailbox. The backside of the envelope has clear directions on what to do with your completed ballot.

vote by mail envelope design 1Easy to return accurately

The return address to the elections department is pre-printed. Required signature space has ample room and a noticeable indicator. There is an optional template for a two hole punch on each end of the signature space to help the visually impaired feel the space. The color wrap can be varied for election departments that manage multiple counties. This allows for ease of sorting.

Designed for USPS

All of the voter’s personalized information is printed on one side of the envelope. The voter’s address shows through a window on the ballot envelope to the voter and return envelope from the voter. The design includes Intelligent Mail Barcodes and STIDs to allow for automation and tracking. All of the processing information is located on one side.

Ballet Envelope Design Templates and Resources

Not all states utilize the same sizes for ballot envelopes. Center for Civic Design has free templates to fit the varied needs. They offer bilingual layouts and can create the signature space to be hidden or exposed.

The USPS also has created the “2020 Official Election Mail™ Kit” to help you in the planning and preparation of election-related mill.

We’ve also created a Vote By Mail Envelope Guide that showcases the various paper envelope options that are optimized for vote by mail.

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