Mail Files

Topics This Page
photo of mailboxWe have generated data for, literally, millions of mail pieces in the past 12 years. While mail file generation is a rather straightforward process, the additional tasks faced by a campaign associated with producing and actually mailing an effective mailer can be daunting at first.

If you are working on creating a mail program for your campaign, we recommend you review the two white papers on this site entitled "Mailer Do's and Don'ts" and "Mail Houses." You will find a host of suggestions that may help guide you through the process of designing and implementing effective mailings. You do not have to follow our suggestions, but I would recommend that most campaign people browse these articles before settling on a particular approach to their mailings.

Return to top of page

Mail File Fields and Formats

Generally, mailing label data consists of the following fields:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Suffix
  • Address1
  • Address2
  • City
  • State
  • Zip

Data files can be created in most data formats you might need:

  • Microsoft® Excel®
  • Delimited Text
  • DBase
  • Microsoft® Access® (additional charge applies)

Return to top of page


We are very fortunate in Florida campaigns of having an extensive set of criteria to choose from within our voter files. Ethnicity, gender, age, length of time as a voter, party affiliation are variables not always available to campaigns in other states. As an example, in Michigan, you cannot get a date of birth, party affiliation, or ethnic designation for a voter. You are essentially hamstrung in appealing to a voter except on strictly ideological issues.

We strongly recommend using quality 3 or better voters as your basic criteria for generalized mailings. It should account for 60% to 70% of the voters who turn out for an election except for very high turnout elections such as Presidentials and Gubernatorials.

Return to top of page


National Change of Address processing, or NCOA as it is commonly referred to, is now mandatory processing for any bulk mail going through the US Postal Service. This processing involves weeding out or correcting mailing addresses where the recipient no longer lives at the address on file with the Department of Elections. Any new address that is on file with the US Postal Service is maintained in the NCOA file.

This processing is good for Post Office mail delivery but makes mailings more costly for campaigns: on average, $50 to $150 per certification. The only way around having this processing done is to add the following after the voter's name on the label: "OR CURRENT RESIDENT." Obviously, this detracts from a candidates attempt to make mailers personal.

The NCOA processing can only be done by a handful of Postal certified vendors in the United States. All mail lists without "OR CURRENT RESIDENT" must be sent to one of these processing centers who charge on a per/1000 basis to NCOA the file. When completed, the vendor provides proof of NCOA processing WHICH LASTS ONLY 3 MONTHS. The documentation proving NCOA must accompany the mail piece to the Post Office or it will not get the bulk rate. Fortunately, NCOA certification can be done on the complete district voter file every three months and mailings that are subsets of the district voter file do not have to have their own certification. With correct documentation, mailings fall under the certification of the district file.

Whether the complete voter file or subsequent mail files are processed by Campaign Data or by your mail house is not the question nor the problem. The problem for a campaign is to decide what to do with the voters who have an address change. If the voter has moved out of the county, the voter can be deleted from the file. If, on the other hand, the voter simply relocates within the county, as is most often the case, we run into the problem of knowing whether or not the voter has moved out of the candidate's district and is therefore no longer a viable district voter. There is no easy way of accurately discerning this status except on a voter-by-voter, address by address basis. So, the decision is whether to delete all of the changes within the county, or to keep them all. Ultimately, the candidate or campaign manager will have to make this decision.

If you process your own mail files, your campaign or your mail house will be responsible for maintaining the certification documentation. If we process your mail files, we will be responsible for keeping the certification up to date, and we will notify the campaign when we need to update the certification, generally every three months. If you are not sending mailers at the moment, we can wait until you begin your mail campaign to obtain current certification which will save you a little money.

We understand that this is a new wrinkle in the mailing process, but unless you want to add "OR CURRENT RESIDENT" or something similar, the postal service has us over a barrel.

Contact us if you have questions or requests regarding NCOA processing.

Return to top of page

Residence Address Vs Mailing Address

Voter records contain both a residence address and a mailing address. Legally, the residence address is supposed to be the physical location where the voter resides, but not every county adheres to this standard. For example, there are hundreds of PO Box addresses being used as residence addresses. Also, in the past, some counties have repeated the residence address as the mailing address.

Approximately 10% of voters in the state have a mailing address different than their mailing address. This is not consistent county-by-county. For instance, Miami-Dade County has a mailing address for only 3% of its voters.

Also to consider, 1/2 of all the mailing addresses for the state are PO Boxes which, for most voters or the US Post Office, is just an easier way to get their mail.

Almost all the mailings we do go to the residence address. This has consistently been the best address to use, even though a mailing address may also exist for a voter. There are notable exceptions, however. For instance, in the Florida Keys, the Postal Service will not deliver mail to a voters physical address if a different mailing address exists.  This includes PO Boxes.  In other words, if a voter lives in a single family home, but has a PO Box, the mail carrier will not walk to the voter’s home.  Your piece will only be delivered to the PO Box.  I have not found this to be the case elsewhere, but it should always be a consideration when considering which address to use for campaign pieces, residence address or mailing address.

There is also the consideration of combining the addresses so that if there is a mailing address, it takes priority over the residence address. For timely mail pieces, however, this may not be a good idea. Your mail piece might languish in a PO Box until after the election.

Our experience has shown that the residence address is generally preferable to the mailing address for timely political mail pieces. Unless advised to the contrary, this is the address we use when generating a mail file. We have used the residence address successfully in statewide campaigns.

Return to top of page