The USPS failed to meet a court-imposed deadline Tuesday afternoon for the urgent processing of nearly 300,000 mail-order ballot papers that had not been delivered to the election offices as the deadlines approached.
US District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan, That set the deadline, He said it appeared the postal service had failed to comply with his order and told the organization to be ready to discuss the matter at a hearing on Wednesday noon.
Meanwhile, the postal service said it was working “as fast as possible” as mailing deadlines approached and threatened to deny voters the right to vote. Dozens of states request mail ballots to arrive by the close of polls on Election Day, with late throwing.
Sullivan ordered the Postal Service to sweep facilities in areas with particularly slow delivery times, and required the agency to complete its work by 3 p.m. in order to expedite delivery of any remaining ballot papers.
But the Postal Service said the deadline was too difficult.
“ Due to the time constraints set by the court order, and the fact that postal inspectors operate nationwide, the defendants were unable to expedite the daily review process from 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM without significantly disrupting pre-existing activities on that day of the election. And it is something that the defendants did not understand the court could call or ask for, “he wrote in a file.
Samuel Spital, director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, one of the groups that sues the Postal Service, said the alarming deadline underscores why lawsuits should begin.
“The failure of the USPS to fully comply with the order of the day issued by a federal court is unacceptable, and it specifically explains why oversight was necessary to ensure that all ballot papers were delivered in a timely manner,” he said. “Judge Sullivan issued several orders over the past week aimed at ensuring that the primary objective is met.”
The court battle comes as a record number of Americans have already cast their votes for Tuesday’s election by mail as a precaution during the coronavirus outbreak.
Data disclosed by the Postal Service in court files this week showed that nearly 300,000 ballot papers entering the mail system had not been scanned to indicate their delivery.
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With the exception of Pennsylvania and Texas, each of these states requires ballots to be mailed by the close of polls on Election Day, which means late ballots will not be counted.
The due date for the postal ballot in Pennsylvania on November 6 is also subject to change, after three conservative judges on the Supreme Court last week saw the possibility of hearing an appeal from the Republican Party after Election Day, which, if successful, would nullify any ballot papers arriving after November 3.
Texas will accept postmarked ballot papers by Election Day and be received by 5 PM the following day.
“Some voters will be denied the right to vote because their ballot papers will arrive late,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law at the University of California Irvine, in the Election Law Blog. “While it happens every year, it’s worse now because of USPS delays.”
Sullivan, who has presided over several lawsuits aimed at delaying election mail, previously ordered the Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines in facilities that could not efficiently process first-class election mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He also ordered the postal service to immediately rescind restrictions on mail collection set by the Director General of Mail Louis DeguyLouis DeJoyPoll: Nearly 70 percent say the election is a “major source of tension.” John Legend warns against mailing ballots at this point, and the Postal Service has ordered a reversal of restrictions on mail collection.The agency ordered that workers be notified of court changes.
DeJoy issued sweeping operational changes in June and July, citing cost-cutting measures during the pandemic. The adjustments included personnel changes, overtime pay for postal workers, and the removal of mail sorting machines.
However, the changes sparked a bipartisan backlash from those who accused DeJoy, a major Republican donor and Trump ally who took office in June, of trying to use the changes to help the president get re-elected.
Updated 7:39 pm