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.
A federal judge has ordered the United States Postal Service to conduct sweeps of facilities for any remaining mail ballots and to rush their delivery.
Sullivan said in that order that the USPS must notify staff that guidelines from July 14 no longer apply and that "personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary" at the same or a greater rate than before those guidelines were issued, in order to increase timely mail delivery, especially election mail.
He said inspectors would be in the facilities throughout the evening to conduct the "daily review process.to ensure compliance at the critical period before the polls close" and identify election mail "as expeditiously as possible".
Many states require receipt of all mailed ballots by the end of Tuesday.
In 17 postal districts that cover 151 electoral votes, Monday's on-time processing rate was even lower: 81.1%. Last week, that rose to more than 30% of mail is being substantially delayed.
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Voting and postal experts say the mail agency should be able to process 97% of incoming ballots - or completed ballots sent to election officials.
Scott Pierce, the Special Agent in Charge for the USPS Inspector General's Southern Area Field Office, told the Herald on Sunday that his team planned to sweep "several" other mail facilities in Miami-Dade County to search for undelivered ballots before Election Day, but he didn't disclose how many facilities or which ones would be searched. In Wisconsin, 89.7% have been returned, and in Pennsylvania, 80.9%.
"When I read about the astronaut smoothly voting from outer space, there must be a better way for Congress to address all of these issues", he said.
In a separate statement, the USPS said it had been running sweeps of political and election mail since January 2020 and that it had intensified its efforts as Election Day approached. Every year everyone knows that the taxes file by April 15th.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, voters turned to postal voting in unprecedented numbers. Delivery matters, delivery after a date doesn't matter.
"This is very concerning and shows why a "received by" deadline just makes no sense and improperly disenfranchises voters", Josh Douglas, a professor at the University of Kentucky Rosenberg College of Law, said of USPS missing the Tuesday deadline.