Best Practice – Secret Ballot Envelope

 

Letterstream Secret Ballot Envelope

Ballot Mailing Best Practices

Improve voter turnout with our new and improved ballot envelope! We have researched and improved our Secret Ballot Envelope in such a way to create a Best Practice solution for secret ballots and your next election. We’ve had a secret ballot envelope for quite some time and have worked with our customers to create a new version that accomplishes nearly every requirement of a secret ballot mailing.

A Secret Ballot Envelope is important to protect the identity of the voter.  It is used in conjunction with a ballot and a #9 return envelope.  The completed ballot is placed in a Secret Ballot Envelope (which is large enough to hold a folded 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper, but small enough to fit in a standard size return envelope) and sealed.  Then the Secret Ballot Envelope gets placed in the #9 return envelope and gets mailed back to the management company.  The management company can then open all the #9 envelopes and take the sealed ballot envelopes to the meeting for counting.

For those who need to keep track of which homeowners have returned their ballot or proxy, we have a simple option to add the homeowners mailing address and/or lot number to the return address area of the #9 envelope.  This allows the HOA management companies to see who has voted, while not being able to see how they voted for the election.

There might be a few individuals who say “Ah, nobody cares how other people vote.”.  Well, we might argue that anyone who says something like that has probably not served of a Homeowner Board or talked with their neighbors who don’t vote out of fear that their vote might be held against them. We might also argue that the number of homeowners voting could improve when a secure and trustworthy process is followed.

New Features of our Ballot Envelope:

Instructions for Homeowner – The envelope more clearly explains to the homeowner/recipient/voter what their role is and how to best use the envelope in order to keep their ballot secret.

Instructions for Management Company – The envelope contains instructions for the management company, board member or whoever handles the secret ballot so they can process it while protecting the intentions of a secret ballot.

Save a Page – With good instructions built right into the envelope, you no longer need to try and wordsmith some good directions in your own document.  This might just free up some space in your letter or possibly save an entire sheet of paper.

Professionally Designed – This new envelope looks far more professional in its design which may lead to better utilization and compliance.

Best Practices – We’ve attempted to incorporate the appropriate instructions and simplistic design in an effort to create a “Best Practices” solution to proxy and Secret Ballot mailings.

Same Security Tint – Our Secret Ballot Envelope continues to have security tint on the inside of the envelope to keep prying eyes from trying to see through the envelope.

Same Great Price – While we believe this envelope is far superior to our earlier version we’ve decided to leave the price the same as its always been.

We believe this is the best way to solicit proxies and votes from your members; its secure, its fast and its easy.  Give it a try for your next election or proxy mailing and let us know how it worked for you.

Delivering Mail, The Old Fashioned Way

LeGunflint Mail RuntterStream is delighted to be a sponsor in this years Gunflint Mail Run (www.gunflintmail.com). The Gunflint Mail Run is a sled dog race taking place in Cook County Minnesota this weekend, celebrating the old way of delivering mail and supplies.

As a printing and mailing company, we’re glad for the more modern ways of getting mail from place to place, but it sure is fun to look back at yesteryear and see how things used to be.  Take a moment to check out the Gunflint Mail Run website, they have some beautiful pictures of dog sled teams working through the snow as well as some history of dog sledding in Minnesota.

You can also participate in their fund raising efforts and bid on some $75 LetterStream coupons, which might not be bid up as high as warm winter cabins, crampons and various other cold-weather items. The coupons can be used for USPS First-class mail, postcards, Certified Mail, FedEx overnight letters or any other services that LetterStream offers.

 

Happy Halloween from LetterStream!

Halloween at Letterstream
Halloween at Letterstream

We had our annual Halloween costume contest yesterday and had a lot of fun and with costumes.  If you called in to speak with us about your mailing project yesterday, we apologize for the ghostly noises that you may have heard in the background.

We are always a little surprised when no one dresses up like a mailman, but we had a lot of participation this year.  Here’s hoping your Halloween is both safe and fun!

Must Be Postmarked Today! Warp The Space-Time Continuum.

LetterStream reverses timeEver get into that position where you need to mail something by a certain date but you aren’t sure how you can make it to the post office in time?

Sometimes you need to get a cancellation letter or an acceptance letter or one of many other letters of a legal nature postmarked by a certain date. Or maybe it’s a bid for an upcoming project. Whatever the case for needing a postmark, and needing it today… there’s a chance we can help.

One of the many neat benefits of knowing a mailing company out west, in Scottsdale Arizona to be exact, is that we can drop your letter at our local post office which is typically still open even after your office closes, especially if you live or work on the East Coast.

This is where the speed of the internet can warp the speed of time. If you live in New York and it is 6 pm, the post offices are already closed, and your letter has no chance to be mailed today. However, if you take 2 minutes to load your letter into the LetterStream.com website, you’ve effectively turned back time by 3 hours (April – October)*, making it 3:10 pm with the post office still open (in Arizona).

We’ll print your letter and get it in the mail before the day is out.

There is some fine print here… if you want to make sure your letter gets mailed the same day, you will need to choose “Rush” on your order, which will increase the price slightly, but we do guarantee same day processing or your money back if you choose that option. Also keep in mind that Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Saving Time (DST), so some months there is only a 2 hour difference.

When that letter really really needs to be mailed today, warp the space-time continuum by using LetterStream Rush Services.

So Long Go Daddy – LetterStream moves to the Amazon Cloud

LetterStream turned off dedicated servers at Go Daddy today and moved to the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS). We’ve enjoyed our time with Go Daddy over the past dozen years, but it’s time for us to move on to a more powerful and hopefully more reliable network and hosting partner.

As you are probably keenly aware, we like excellence. We thrive on it. We love offering it. We love getting it. It’s just who we are. Because excellence is in our DNA, we need strategic partners who are like minded in their pursuit of perfection.

The most recent Go Daddy outage that impacted us happened just today, June 22, 2015. The prior outage we experienced was June 9th. On both occasions Go Daddy didn’t know our dedicated servers were unavailable. Today, after being left in the dark about the status of their network and being in queue for 30 minutes for a server reset, we felt the need to re-evaluate why only our backup servers were operating in AWS.

so long go daddy
source: www.downdetector.com

In pursuit of uptime perfection we’ve officially decided to move our primary servers to AWS. This move should deliver greater availability as well as scalability, both of which are designed to give you comfort with your choice of LetterStream as your print and mail partner.

Amazon Web Services
source: www.downdetector.com

Please know that we are around for you. We don’t want to hide behind long chat queues, or multiple tiers of technical support, nor do we want to partner with organizations who are not mindful of how important you are to us. We are optimistic that this migration will allow us to continue to offer the outstanding service that you deserve.

 

New USPS Postage Rates Coming May 31st

It’s official; new postage prices go into effect on May 31st, 2015. On May 4th the Postal Regulatory Commission approved the USPS proposed price change request.

As a recap, the price of a USPS First-Class stamp remains unchanged at $.49. Therefore there is no need to stock up on Forever stamps.

However, most other postal mailing categories will see increases. Below are some of the highlights for First-Class Mail.

  • First-Class Postcards will increase from $.34 to $.35 each
  • Additional ounces for First-Class mail will increase from $.21 to $.22
  • Certified Mail base fees will increase from $3.30 to $3.45
  • Certified Mail Return Receipt Green Card fees will increase from $2.70 to $2.80
  • Certified Mail Electronic Return Receipts will increase from $1.35 to $1.40
  • International First-Class Letters will go up from $1.15 to $1.20
  • One ounce First-Class flats will increase to $.98, and 2 ounce pieces will be $1.20
  • Registered Mail letters will increase from $11.95 to $12.20
  • The price of a First-Class Stamp will remain at $.49

Keep in mind, we are quoting the new USPS postage costs, not LetterStream prices. LetterStream typically increases prices only to the extent that the USPS fees increase, but review your invoice when creating mailings online for exact pricing.

It’s generally difficult to find the new postage rate charts at USPS.com before a postage rate change is implemented, but with a little digging, the rate tables can be found. Follow this link for the new postage rates for 2015. You can download an Excel file in the left sidebar called “Mailing Services Prices excel – Proposed Updated 05/01/15”.

We don’t recommend using the “Calculate a Price” postage rate tool on the USPS website for mailings after May 31 until that date has passed. While the tool technically allows you to enter the future date of a mailing, it doesn’t take into account the new rate increases. (Don’t ask us why.)

If you’d like to see the complete PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission) document, it was published by the Federal Government Publishing Office on May 4, 2015 and can be found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-05-04/pdf/2015-10029.pdf

USPS First-Class Mail Slowing Down… Or Is It Me?

Stopwatch Man Waiting for First-Class MailDoes it seem like your First-Class letters don’t travel as quickly as they used to? Well, it’s not just your imagination. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been intentionally and systematically slowing down First-Class letters in order to reduce costs and create efficiencies in their mail handling operations.

This slowing down process has been rolling out for several months now and will continue to be noticed as postal facilities consolidate and the new plans take shape. The most obvious change occurred in January of this year (2015) when the USPS eliminated next day delivery of First-Class mail. This change has effected almost everyone who receives First-Class mail.

Judging by the number of phone calls we’ve already received about this, it’s not necessarily what any of us expected. If there is an upside, the USPS still quotes a delivery service standard for First-Class mail of 3 days (from and to) anywhere in the first 48 U.S. States. (But don’t quote us on this; we are still a little skeptical).

Here’s a good overview published by the USPS in September of 2011; it’s pretty clear and easy to read, and spells out their elimination of next day First-Class mail: USPS Frequently Asked Questions – Service Standards

If you want to dive into all the glorious details in a far-less user friendly document, you can review the implementation plan in the USPS Final Federal Register 39 CFR Part 121. This document spells out the specifics of the USPS implementation process. Phase one began on July 1, 2012, and phase two began on February 1, 2014.

In January of this year, the USPS posted a revised interactive service level map on their website in order for mailers to graphically see the service standards for various types of mail originating at your nearest post office. Follow the link to do some experimenting of your own based on your location. For LetterStream customers, use 850 PHOENIX AZ as your Originating point.

Keep in mind that the USPS service standards are not service guarantees. You know… “results may vary“.

In summary, your next day delivery of First-Class letters is probably gone for good, and we are likely to see additional days of transit built in as the USPS consolidates facilities. Editor’s note: Just between you and me and Mr. Stopwatch here; I’d caution you to not expect faster service if your letters already take 4 to 5 days for delivery.

Official USPS And LetterStream 2015 Holiday Schedule

We’ve updated our USPS Holiday Calendar with the latest information from the USPS. In addition, we’ve added important USPS early closing days which are not typically spelled out on the USPS Postal Holidays web page.

We’ve placed this information along with LetterStream’s holiday schedule on a Google Calendar so you can have all the information at your fingertips on your smartphone, tablet or Google account.

If you are already synced to the LetterStream calendar, awesome! Your job here is done. If not, see the instructions below.

One more important mention; most USPS retail counters close early on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so make sure you call ahead and/or plan accordingly. In conjunction, LetterStream will also be closing early on both of those days.

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Click on the “+Google Calendar” button below to subscribe with your Google account.

(*Click here for instructions on how to sync Google Calendar with a mobile device.)

USPS First-Class Stamp Price – Unchanged For 2015

2015 USPS first-class stamp priceJanuary is the month that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been using to introduce prices increases in recent years. However, for 2015 the USPS has no intentions of raising the rate of a First-Class stamp.

On January 15, 2015 the USPS published a press release about pricing titled “Forever Stamp Prices Unchanged“. The title might be a bit misleading as they are actually talking about the price of *any* First-Class stamp that you purchase for First-Class 1 ounce letters, not just Forever Stamps. Late in the press release the USPS specifically says:

Maintains single-piece stamp prices at 49 cents.

Keep in mind the USPS is requesting authorization to raise the price of other letter fees, including the cost for additional ounces (from $.21 to $.22), the cost of international letters (from $1.15 to $1.20) and the cost of postcards (from $.34 to $.35). “Requesting authorization” means that these price changes need to be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission before becoming official.

If approved, the changes will take affect on April 26, 2015.