Federal judge orders sweep of postal facilities for mail-in ballots

Written by on November 3, 2020

Federal judge orders sweep of postal facilities for mail-in ballots

By Brian Naylor/ NPR

November 3, 2020

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A person deposits mail in a box outside United States Post Office in Cranberry Township, Pa., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to conduct an Election Day “sweep” of facilities in more than 10 states to make sure no mail-in ballots have been held up, including Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued the order for certain postal districts in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wyoming and parts of Northern New England. The order affects several major cities in those states, including Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia.

He told the Postal Service to send “postal inspectors or their designees” to sweep the facilities “to ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery.”

Election officials in several states, along with the NAACP and voting rights groups, have sued the Postal Service, charging that actions by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had slowed the mail and risked delaying the delivery of mail-in ballots.

The Postal Service says it has suspended those actions and that it is taking extraordinary steps to ensure that mail-in ballots are processed on time. It says it has processed and delivered some 122 million mail-in ballots.

However, data submitted to the court indicates that the Postal Service is not meeting its on-time delivery goals for first class mail in some key swing states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Some 27.5 million mail ballots are outstanding, according to the U.S. Elections Project.

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