Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EAP: Gratitude ePromotion


As we approach the “Thanksgiving” holiday, it seems a fitting time to pause and reflect on the value that being grateful can play in our lives. Gratitude, at first blush, is a familiar and simple emotion. We receive a gift – from a friend, a family member – and we feel grateful and appreciative. Or we have a near miss with a car running a red light and our first reaction is a quick breath of gratitude that something terrible did not happen. What if practicing gratitude had the power to be a foundation for your sense of well-being and happiness?
An ePromotion is a series of emails sharing brief information to help you actively engage in a topic. The EAP invites you to sign up to participate by responding to this invitation. In the “Gratitude” ePromotion, you will receive emails Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays over the next 4 weeks.
You may use your postal or home email address and your participation is strictly confidential. Please feel free to share “Gratitude” with your co-workers and family members and encourage them to sign up as well. This ePromotion is designed to help you experience the power of gratitude as you prepare for the coming holiday season. We will explore the benefits for your body, mind, and emotions. Think of these emails as your daily dose of “vitamin G!”
If you would like more information or to sign up, please contact me by email at vrperezgonzalez@magellanhealth.com or by calling 305-594-2784.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - October 27 Update: South Florida under Wind Advisory

The South Florida District Emergency Management Team continues to track Hurricane Sandy through National Hurricane Center Advisories. Their priority is the safety and well being of all employees. 
During the night, Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm, but in the 8 am National Hurricane Advisory, was upgraded to a hurricane with winds at 75 mph and higher gusts.  Currently, Sandy is approximately 335 miles southeast of Charleston, South CarolinaSandy is a very large tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 100 miles, primarily southwest of the center, and tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 450 miles from the center.
While there are no tropical storm or hurricane watches or warnings for South Florida, the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory in effect until 8 pm this evening
A wind advisory means that sustained winds of at least 30 mph or frequent gusts in excess of 35 mph are expected.  Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles.  Loose objects also can be blown around by winds this strong.  The District Emergency Management Team asks that all employees exercise caution while at work and at home.
All postal operations remain normal throughout the South Florida District. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Oct 26, 2 pm Update


The South Florida District Emergency Management Team continues to track Hurricane Sandy through National Hurricane Center Advisories. Their priority is the safety and well being of all employees. 
The 2 p.m. National Hurricane Center Advisory states that Sandy remains a Category 1 hurricane, weakening to 75 mph with higher gusts.  Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.  The wind field is expected to grow in size during the next couple of days.
The tropical storm watch for the Florida Keys south of Ocean Reef to Craig Key and for Florida Bay has been discontinued.   With the exception of Lake Okeechobee*, the tropical storm warning has been discontinued for South Florida.
Sandy is located about 30 miles north-northeast of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas or about 430 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.
All postal operations remain normal throughout the South Florida District.  Employees are reminded to call the USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline for up-to-date information on work schedules and facility status.
USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline

1-888-363-7462

If you are a deaf or hard-of-hearing employee, here’s how to contact the Postal Service in an emergency:  If you have a mobile phone with a relay app such as Sorenson, Sprint, Purple, etc., call the voice hotline number through your phone’s relay service or contact us online via the Federal IP Relay at www.federalip.us.  If you use TDD, call the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

Domestic & International Mailing, Shipping Dates for Holiday Season


Domestic Mail Class/Product
Dates
First-Class Mail Service
Dec. 20
Priority Mail Service
Dec. 21
Express Mail Service*
Dec. 22
Parcel Post Service
Dec. 14
Destination Network Distribution Center (DNDC) Drop Ship
Dec. 19
Destination Delivery Unit (DDU) Drop Ship
Dec. 21
* Some Express Mail destinations may have extended service commitments.

             International Mail 

Destination
Global Express Guaranteed Service *
Express Mail Service
Priority Mail Service
First-Class Mail International
Service
Africa
Dec. 19
Dec. 11
Dec. 3
Dec. 3
Asia/Pacific Rim
Dec. 18
Dec. 15
Dec. 10
Dec. 10
Australia/New Zealand
Dec. 18
Dec. 15
Dec. 10
Dec. 10
Canada
Dec. 20
Dec. 17
Dec. 13
Dec. 10
Caribbean
Dec. 19
Dec. 15
Dec. 13
Dec. 10
Central & South America
Dec. 19
Dec. 11
Dec. 3
Dec. 3
Mexico
Dec. 20
Dec. 15
Dec. 10
Dec. 10
Europe
Dec. 19
Dec. 15
Dec. 13
Dec. 10
Middle East
Dec. 19
Dec. 15
Dec. 13
Dec. 10
* GXG Notes:  Cutoff date does not take into account time needed for customs clearance.  2.  Should allocate extra transit day(s) for delivery outside major cities. 3.  Last date to ship to Afghanistan is December 18. Last date to ship to Iraq is December 17. GXG does not deliver to APO and FPO addresses.

Hurricane Sandy: October 26 Update


The South Florida District Emergency Management Team continues to track Hurricane Sandy through National Hurricane Center Advisories. Their priority is the safety and well being of all employees. 
At 11 a.m., Sandy is a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 80 mph with higher gusts.   The National Hurricane Center reports that some weakening is possible during the next day or so. 
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.  The wind field is expected to grow in size during the next couple of days.
The tropical storm watch for the Florida Keys south of Ocean Reef to Craig Key and for Florida Bay has been discontinued.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Florida East Coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach, and Lake Okeechobee.  A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
At this time, all postal operations are normal throughout the South Florida District.  Employees are reminded to call the USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline for up-to-date information on work schedules and facility status.

USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline
1-888-363-7462

If you are a deaf or hard-of-hearing employee, here’s how to contact the Postal Service in an emergency: If you have a mobile phone with a relay app such as Sorenson, Sprint, Purple, etc., call the voice hotline number through your phone’s relay service or contact us online via the Federal IP Relay at www.federalip.us.  If you use TDD, call the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Federal Register Notices on Mailing and Shipping Services

International Product and Price Changes (Shipping Services) — In this final rule, the Postal Service provides revised mailing standards in the International Mail Manual (IMM) to reflect prices, product features, and classification changes to Shipping Services, including Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), Express Mail International, Priority Mail International, and First-Class Package International Service.  For additional information, please visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-10-23/html/2012-25994.htm.
International Mailing Services: Proposed Product and Price Changes (Mailing Services) — In this proposed rule, the Postal Service provides revised mailing standards throughout the various Individual Country Listings in the IMM to reflect price adjustments for Mailing Services — First-Class Mail International and extra services.  For additional information, please visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-10-23/html/2012-25992.htm.
New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products — In this proposed rule, the Postal Service provides revised mailing standards in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) to implement proposed Mailing Services price changes, including several mail classification changes, modifications to mailpiece characteristics, and changes in classification terminology. For additional information, please visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-10-23/html/2012-25995.htm.

Proper Handling of Absentee Ballots

USPS is reminding employees to deliver all Election Mail ballots to election officials, regardless of whether postage is due.
According to Postal Operations Manual 171.3, absentee ballots materials are handled differently than other unpaid or short-paid mailpieces. According to the policy, absentee ballots addressed to an election office — with or without sufficient postage — must be delivered and cannot be held for postage payment.
In addition:
  • Short-paid and unpaid absentee balloting materials must not be returned to the voter for additional postage. Postage is collected from the election office upon delivery or at a later date.
  • Account for absentee ballots with insufficient or no postage using existing procedures for postage-due mail. Try to collect the postage due from the election office at the time of delivery. However, absentee ballots must be delivered even if the receiving election office refuses to pay.
  • Military and overseas absentee ballots bearing indicia “US Postage Paid 39 USC 3406” are not short-paid. No additional postage is needed.
  • Willful delay of absentee balloting material or other election material is a violation of policy, ethics and the law.
For additional information, read the stand-up talk on the handling of absentee ballots with insufficient or no postage. Also refer to the stand-up talk for Business Reply Mail ballots for information on delivering ballots and collecting unpaid or short-paid fees at later dates.

Postal Service Delivers Holiday Cheer to Service Members Worldwide

Ensuring care packages arrive in time for the holiday season is a priority for friends and family members of military personnel serving around the world. To help get packages on their way, the U.S. Postal Service offers a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box at a price of $13.45. The price includes a $2 per box discount for military mail being sent to APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office, Diplomatic Post Office) destinations worldwide. 

In addition to a lower cost per package customers can be assured that shipping with the Postal Service will provide reliable, trusted and secure delivery to military personnel stationed anywhere in the world.

Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are available at no cost at local Post Offices, or can be ordered online at shop.usps.com. Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship.

To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, cards and packages to military APO/FPO/DPO address oversees should be sent no later than the mailing dates listed below.
   
Military Mail Addressed To
Express Mail Military Service (EMM)
First-Class Mail           Letters/Cards

Priority Mail


Parcel Airlift Mail
(PAL)
Space Available Mail
(SAM)
Parcel Post


APO/FPO AE ZIPs 090-092
Dec. 17
Dec.10
Dec. 10
Dec. 3
Nov. 26
Nov. 13
APO/FPO AE ZIP 093
N/A
Dec. 3
Dec. 3
Nov. 30
Nov. 26
Nov. 13
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 094-098
Dec. 17
Dec. 10
Dec. 10
Dec. 3
Nov. 26
Nov. 13
APO/FPO AA ZIP 340
Dec. 17
Dec. 10
Dec. 10
Dec. 3
Nov. 26
Nov. 13
APO/FPO AP ZIPs 962-966
Dec. 17
Dec. 10
Dec. 10
Dec. 3
Nov. 26
Nov. 13

EMM – Available at select military/diplomatic Post Offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.
PAL – Provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post Items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight for 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
SAM – Parcels are paid at Parcel Post prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined.  SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space available basis.

The recommended last day to mail the most economical postage to overseas military destinations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, is Nov. 13. Mail addressed to military Post Offices overseas is subject to certain conditions or restrictions regarding content, preparation and handling. APO/FPO/DPO addresses generally require customs forms.

Support Our Troops by Sending Care Packages
With Priority Mail service supplies as the packaging of choice for families preparing care packages for service members overseas, the Postal Service created a free “Military Care Kit” based on the items most frequently requested by military families.  The kit contains two Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate Boxes, two Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Boxes, Priority Mail tape, Priority Mail address labels, and appropriate customs forms.  To order the kit, call 800-610-8734.
Guidelines for packing, addressing, and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at www.usps.com/ship/apo-fpo-guidelines.htm.  To order Flat Rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo go to store.usps.com.

Hurricane Sandy: October 25 Update

The South Florida District Emergency Management Team continues to track Hurricane Sandy through National Hurricane Center Advisories.  Under the leadership of District Manager Jeffrey Becker, the EMT consists of senior postal managers and Postal Inspectors who meet regularly to review current weather conditions and to make operational decisions for the district.  Their priority is the safety and well being of all employees. 
Hurricane Sandy is approaching the Central Bahamas as a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds at 105 mph.  Sandy is traveling north at 20 mph.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida East Coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach, and Lake Okeechobee.  A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Florida East Coast from north of Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach, the Florida Upper Keys from Ocean Reef to Craig Key, and Florida Bay.  A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area.
Employees are encouraged to listen to local weather reports for updates on Hurricane Sandy.
At this time, all postal operations are normal throughout the South Florida District.  Employees are reminded to call the USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline for up-to-date information on work schedules and facility status.
USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline

1-888-363-7462

If you are a deaf or hard-of-hearing employee, here’s how to contact the Postal Service in an emergency:

If you have a mobile phone with a relay app such as Sorenson, Sprint, Purple, etc., call the voice hotline number through your phone’s relay service or contact us online via the Federal IP Relay at www.federalip.us.  If you use TDD, call the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

Monday, October 15, 2012

750 Million Santa and Sleigh Stamps to Guide St. Nick 'Forever'

St. Nick begins navigating the nation’s mailstream to the tune of 750 million Santa and Sleigh Forever stamps. The stamp art was inspired by the 1823 poem by Clement C. Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” also known as “The Night Before Christmas” or “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
On Saturday, October 13, the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took place at the Sunset Terrace of the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, Pier 61 – 23rd St. and the Hudson River in New York City.  Joining U.S. Postal Service Northeast Area Vice President Richard Uluski in dedicating the stamps will be 2002 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Sarah Hughes.
“The issuance of a new American stamp is always a thrilling and historical event,” said Hughes, “and I am excited that the use of the Santa and Sleigh Forever stamps will help the nation celebrate the holiday season.”
“For the past 50 years, the Postal Service has issued Christmas-themed stamps,” said Uluski, “And it’s no surprise that since our first 4-cent Christmas ‘Wreath and Candles’ stamp was issued back in 1962, all of our holiday stamps — 102 to date — have been extremely popular. What makes these new Santa and Sleigh stamps truly unique is that this is the first time we’ve ever had a continuous picture across four Christmas stamps.”
Holiday stamps represent nearly 10 percent of all stamp sales with more than 90 billion printed since 1962. Originally drawn in pencil on paper, the image portrays Santa Claus flying through the air in his sleigh. With a cargo of toys and gifts produced in his workshop by elves, he lands on the rooftop of house after house and slides down the chimney to leave presents for girls and boys of all ages.
The 2012 Holy Family Forever stamp was issued October 10. Other holiday stamps include Eid, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa
How to Obtain the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at a local Post Office, at The USPS Store website at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:
Postmaster
421 Eighth Ave., Rm. 2029B
New York, NY 10199-9998
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by 

It's 'National Stamp Collecting Month'

October is "National Stamp Collecting Month."  Stamp collecting has often been called “the hobby of kings and the king of hobbies.” Linn’s Stamp News estimates that more than 5 million individuals in the United States collect the small pieces of paper that indicate payment of postage.
Stamps collectors include individuals from all walks of life. While President Frank Roosevelt may have been the most famous U.S. collector, other well-known collectors include financial gurus Bill Gross and Warren Buffet; astronaut Henry Hartsfield; actors Gary Burghoff, James Earl Jones and Patrick Dempsey; author James Michener; explorer Jacques Cousteau; former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova; musicians John Lennon, Freddy Mercury and Ron Wood; cartoonist Gary Trudeau; and former French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
From baseball fans to lovers of mother nature to hard-core collectors, the U.S. Postal Service’s line-up of products for National Stamp Collecting Month has something for everyone.
Among the new products are The 2012 Stamp Yearbook and 39th edition of The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps.
The stamps of 2012 celebrate a rich patchwork of American life — from poets and choreographers to national pastimes and cultural celebrations. Full of intriguing stories, stunning images and exciting new features, The 2012 Stamp Yearbook is the perfect way to savor and enjoy the year’s program.
The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps, in an easy-to-use, oversize format, is a “must-have” for collectors. This fully illustrated four-color guide to U.S. stamps is the official publication providing the most comprehensive information available about the U.S. stamp program. Beginning with the first stamps issued in 1847, the guide covers more than 4,000 stamps issued up to the present.
For baseball fans and stamp enthusiasts, Play Ball! is the perfect keepsake. The 8-1/2” x 11”,40-page softbound book is filled with the vivid paintings of artist Graig Kreindler, whose extraordinary work captures our national pastimes’ biggest icons in action. The issuances included in this book are: The 2001 Legendary Playing Fields, 2010 Negro Leagues Baseball and the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps.
Historians and students of the Civil War will want to add to their collection The Civil War: 1862 Commemorative Folio.  This extraordinary commemorative package captures a piece of Civil War history and the second stamp issuance in the five-year Civil War Sesquicentennial series.  The package consists of a handsome tri-fold folio containing The Civil War: 1862 souvenir sheet of 12 stamps and a collectible card showcasing two affixed stamps and two official First-Day-of-Issue postmarks.
Mother Earth never looked so captivating and — collectible — than on a 500-piece puzzle featuring 15 breathtaking images of America’s landscapes as seen from high above the planet’s surface. Sure to provide hours of entertainment for all ages, the 18 x 24-inch puzzle also makes a spectacular piece of art to frame or display once completed. It comes with a sheet of 15 Earthscapes Forever stamps.

Holy Family on Christmas Stamp


The dramatic story of the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt has been depicted in art and music for centuries.  
Now the story travels on millions of Forever stamps with the U.S. Postal Service’s issuance of the Holy Family stamp as the nation prepares for the holiday mailing season. 
The stamp was unveiled at Bethlehem Chapel, the earliest completed portion of Washington National Cathedral. The center panel of the limestone altar reredos (backdrop) depicts the birth of Jesus, and the chapel’s five windows tell the Nativity story with colorful detail. The design of the 1980 Christmas stamp featured the Madonna and Child taken from the chapel’s Epiphany stained glass window. The Christmas-themed iconography of Bethlehem Chapel extends to the needlepoint kneelers, which bear symbols and images related to the Nativity story including stars, mangers, camels, magi, shepherds, and angels.
How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark, Holy Family Forever Stamp
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase the new stamp at a local Post Office. They should affix the stamp to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others) and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:
Holy Family Stamp
Special Cancellations
P.O. Box 92282
Washington, DC  20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes by mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by December 10, 2012.

Friday, October 12, 2012

USPS Announces New Pricing, Introduces Global Forever Stamp


New pricing for First-Class Mail single-piece letters and domestic flat-rate shipping products will go into effect next January.
Also beginning early next year, USPS will offer a First-Class Mail Global Forever Stamp.  The new stamp will allow customers to mail letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10.
Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective January 27, 2013, include:
·     Letters (1oz.): 1-cent increase to 46 cents
·     Letters additional ounces: unchanged at 20 cents
·     Letters to all international destinations (1oz.): $1.10
·     Postcards: 1-cent increase to 33 cents
New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products include:
·     Small box: $5.80
·     Medium box: $12.35
·     Large box: $16.85
·     Large APO/FPO box: $14.85
·     Regular envelope: $5.60
·     Legal envelope: $5.75
·     Padded envelope: $5.95
Several new Shipping Services products also will be available in January. Free tracking will be offered to all competitive packages, including retail Priority Mail and Parcel Post (recently renamed Standard Post). And customers shipping Critical Mail letters and flats will have the option of receiving a signature upon delivery. 
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will review the prices before they become effective. The new Mailing Service prices will be available at http://pe.usps.com.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

It was 125 Years Ago Today ...

Today is a significant day in postal history.  On October 11, 1887, the most infamous of the 11 “Barefoot Mailmen” --- James Edward “Ed” Hamilton ---vanished while swimming in the Hillsboro Inlet near Pompano Beach.  That was  125 years ago! 
With no railroad or regular ship service, a letter from Miami to Jupiter took six to eight weeks via Key West, Havana, and New York.  Between 1885 and 1893, pioneers traveled the 136 miles between Palm Beach and Key Biscayne. They traveled 56 miles in small boats and the remaining 80 on foot, walking at the ocean’s edge.  In late 1892 the first county road from Lantana to Lemon City was completed. The following year the U.S. Postal Service did not renew the "Barefoot Mailman's" contract.
Historians believe Hamilton, on what would be his last run, arrived at the inlet and found his boat gone, apparently stolen. The presumption is the determined mailman tried to swim and drowned ... or was eaten by alligators.
The Barefoot Mailman is memorialized in the town seal of Hypoluxo, a historical marker at Boca Raton’s Spanish River Park, and a statue of Hamilton near the spot where he died. A six-panel mural painted by Connecticut artist Steven Dohanos in the late 1930s is in the lobby of the West Palm Beach Main Office at 3200 Summit Blvd.
Special thanks to West Palm Beach Customer Relations Coordinator LuAnn Warner for photographing the artwork to share with us.

South Florida L&DC Employees Host Combined Federal Campaign Kick Off

By Coleen Lovin, Human Resource Specialist
Recently the South Florida District held a kick off event for the Combined Federal Campaign at the South Florida Logistics and Distribution Center in Opa Locka. District Manager Jeffrey Becker gave opening remarks and cut the ribbon officially to kick off the 2012 campaign. This year's theme is "We are the Hope for a Better Tomorrow." 
The South Florida District's goal is $848,976. In a few short weeks, employees already have pledged donations totaling $106, 156.10, and several work units already have surpassed their goal.
This year's CFC loaned executives are Jorge Bacca, Patricia Coney, Edith Naar, Jennifer Thonus, Michelle Thornton-Williams, and Denise Tims.
On the same day as the CFC kick off, an Agency Fair had 14 local participants including Chapman Partnership, Cooperative Feeding Program Inc., Dan Marino Foundation, Diabetes Research Institute, Family Center, First Call for Help, Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, Gateway Community Outreach, I Have a Dream Overtown, Light of the World Clinic, Louie Bing Scholarship Fund, National Parkinson Foundation, Sunshine Social Services/Sunserve, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Task Force Halts ID Theft, Tax Fraud

The Miami Herald reports federal authorities charged 40 South Florida defendants with identity theft and income tax fraud in a major crackdown on the “epidemic” crime.  Prosecutors in Miami unveiled charges against a total of 40 defendants accused of stealing the personal information of roughly 54,000 people and using it to file fraudulent income-tax refund claims with the Internal Revenue Service.  
The takedown by a new South Florida task force — involving the IRS, FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and local police departments — follows a Justice Department edict on October 1. It gave authorities at the local level greater leeway to pursue tax-fraud offenders who swipe other people’s identities to fleece the federal government.
Among major U.S. cities with the most fraud-related tax filings: Tampa (88,724 returns, with refunds of $468 million); Miami (74,496 returns, with refunds of $280 million) and Atlanta (29,787 returns, with refunds of $77 million).  At the news conference, authorities said the Miami area’s per capita number of false returns based on identity theft was 46 times the national average, and its per capita value of fraudulent refunds was 70 times the U.S. average.

Record # Absentee Ballots in Mail

USPS continues to receive positive media coverage, i.e. Broward County Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes telling South Florida media that “we have a great partnership with the Postal Service.”  On Tuesday, October 9, Broward Department of Elections held a media event that attracted print and television reporters.  South Florida District sent two 18-wheel trucks to pick up the first major drop of absentee ballots (114,000 ballots in 56 GPCs) for delivery to USPS for processing and delivery.  This is a record number of absentee ballots for the presidential election --- nearly double the first load of absentee ballot mailings in 2004.  On Friday, October 5, Miami-Dade County Elections Department mailed 172,000 absentee ballots to voters.

To ensure the timely delivery of mailed ballots, voters in the contiguous United States are asked to mail completed absentee ballots at least three days before the November 6 date of the federal general election — or November 3. Ballots mailed from the contiguous states to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands and vice versa must be mailed at least five days prior to the election date — or November 1. Voters should also consider the time of day when dropping their vote in a collection box to be sure it’s not past the pick-up time for the particular collection box.

Americans overseas, including service members of the U.S. Armed Services, should plan on mailing ballots according to the mailing schedule at www.usps.com/gov-services/gov-services.htm, or by contacting a local Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office (APO/FPO) or American embassy, for guidance in determining the actual cut-off date specific to the overseas location.

Tips for voters using mail ballots:

-- Visit state websites to ascertain election office locations and Vote by Mail rules.
-- Check with the local election office for rules governing mail ballots.
-- Place completed ballots inside their window envelopes correctly.
-- Ensure proper postage and stamp placement on upper right-hand corner of envelope.