U.S. Post Office Blamed for Blowing Deadline to Send Missing Ballots to Officials Before Polls Close

PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 14: Pallets filled with Washington and Oregon mail-in ballots fill an unloading area at a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) processing and distribution center on October 14, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. USPS workers in Portland began processing and mailing about 1.5 million ballots this week ahead of …
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

On Tuesday evening, left-wing groups, including the NAACP, were blaming the U.S. Postal Service for failing to sweep mail processing facilities in order to ensure misplaced ballots get to election officials before the polls close.

The Washington Post reported the Postal Service did not comply with an order by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to sweep its mail processing facilities and send misplaced ballots to officials in time. The judge set a deadline of 3:30 p.m. to complete the sweep.

According to the report, the Post Office had revealed more than 300,000 mail-in ballots across the country were in processing plants but had failed to receive “exit scans,” indicating they may have been misplaced within the postal system.

“This is super frustrating,” NAACP attorney Allison Zieve told the Post. “If they get all the sweeps done today in time, it doesn’t matter if they flouted the judge’s order. They say here they will get the sweeps done between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., but 8 p.m. is too late, and in some states, 5 p.m. is too late.”

USA Today also reported the sweep of the processing plants was to occur in 12 postal districts, including some in battleground states such as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

At 4:30 p.m., the Post Office told Sullivan it was unable to conduct the sweep because it would have “significantly” disrupted its Election Day activities, USA Today reported. The Postal Service said it would continue with its scheduled review process in its 220 ballot processing plants throughout the country and try to deliver the ballots.

“The most important thing that needs to happen now is for all the ballots to be identified, swept up and delivered to elections offices that have poll closing deadlines today,” said Wendy Weiser, director of democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, adding:

If the postal service doesn’t do that I think there will be a reasonable argument on behalf of voters whose ballots arrive late. It would be illegal and unfair to disenfranchise them, assuming they submitted their ballots reasonably and there was an obstruction by the postal service that led to the outcome.

David Partenheimer, spokesman for the Postal Service, told USA Today the agency has delivered more than 126 million ballots and continues to “implement extraordinary measures, including operating special runs of collected ballots to local boards of elections.”

The NAACP and other groups filed a lawsuit in August to ensure mail-in ballot delivery ahead of Election Day. The groups claimed changes made over the summer by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy would have increased delivery times.

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