Magical Tag 57

PACS, Super PACS, unions and other groups advocating a political position will now get the same level of service for their bulk mail as candidates and political parties do from the US Post Office.

Tag 57, or “red tags” are a device used by the post office to identify political campaign pieces in the mail stream. While USPS has never claimed that the tags actually expedite the mail – in practice, they do. Red tagged mail typically gets processed ahead of other standard-rate mail at the bulk mail centers, or BMEs.

While Tag 57 will help political mail clear the BME at the head of the line, once the trays get delivered to local post offices, the tags disappear and it’s up to the postal carrier to deliver the piece.

Until this summer, only political campaigns and state political parties could use Tag 57. This left mailings from PACs, labor unions, and other groups with something to say in an election in the same purgatory as the rest of the bulk mail.

The new policy means these groups to have the same status with USPS as mail from candidates or political parties.

Did Citizens United play a role in this policy change? Probably!

From the USPS:

The following can use Tag 57 for any political campaign mailing:

  • Registered political candidate.
  • Campaign committee.
  • Committee of a political party.
  • Political Action Committee (PAC), Super-PAC, or other organization engaging in issue advocacy or voter mobilization that is conducting a political mes­sage mailing.

At Lit Happens, we make sure that qualified mail gets red tagged.  Thanks to this policy change, it looks like that will be happening much more often.