SMTP 550-5.7.1 Rejected Because of Virginia Redistricting

69 points by hkhanna on 2024-05-15 | 6 comments

Automated Summary

The article describes an instance where politics and technology intersect in a peculiar way. After Virginia's Supreme Court approved a new redistricting plan in December 2021, the state's Senate IT department decided to prevent addressing senators by district numbers via email. When an email was sent to, it bounced back with an SMTP 550-5.7.1 error code. The error message explained that the addressee, Senator Hashmi, had been redistricted to a different district. The article highlights how technological systems have become increasingly interconnected with political processes.


AdmiralAsshat on 2024-05-15

Article doesn't make it clear, but I assume that SMTP 550-5.7.1 was an extant error code and the VA redistricting was simply the message body that the server returned alongside the error code? Otherwise the article might lead one to believe that error 550-5.7.1 was explicitly created for the purpose of VA redistricting (a la HTTP status code 418: "I'm a teapot").

1123581321 on 2024-05-15

Correct. 5.7.1 is supposed to be for malformed/inappropriate sending to the address, so I think they shouldn’t have used it here as the VA resident did nothing wrong. 5.2.1 might be a better error since it means a problem with the recipient/that the recipient is refusing email.

mikece on 2024-05-15

"550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable (e.g., mailbox not found, no access, or command rejected for policy reasons)"

I imagine the "-5.7.1" is an in-house reference by the Virginia IT folks.

jabroni_salad on 2024-05-15

5.7.1 is the response code Exchange uses any time a policy blocks a message. If they are using Exchange then they set it up with a mail flow rule action of 'block the message / reject the message and include an explanation'.

number6 on 2024-05-15

Am I the only one who thinks this is really thoughtful. Even the error message is good. Brilliant

taneliv on 2024-05-15

Those are managed by IANA: and X.7.1 reads out:

"Delivery not authorized, message refused" and "The sender is not authorized to send to the destination. This can be the result of per-host or per-recipient filtering. This memo does not discuss the merits of any such filtering, but provides a mechanism to report such. This is useful only as a permanent error."